The celebrations marking the end of the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan were cut short in Nigeria as Boko Haram increased their terror by mounting a series of deadly attacks that have resulted in the murder of more innocent people, including many children
The markets, mosques and prayer grounds where families have always flocked to to pray, shop and celebrate Eid al-Fitr together became prime targets for Boko Haram militants linked to the Islamic State. Two bombs exploded at a market in the northeastern city of Gombe late Thursday, killing dozens of people who were shopping for Eid al-Fitr. On Friday, fifteen people were killed when two bombs were detonated near an open-air prayer ground in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state. That being said, the army put the death toll at fifty, and it is not unusual to see conflicting reports on casualties.
Another blast occurred at a mosque where three females were wearing suicide vests, with one of them being suspected of being only 10 years old. It has been increasingly common for Boko Haram to use women and girls to hide their suicide vests, however some suggest that it is not necessarily done willingly as many think that those bombs are detonated through a remote, rather than suicide bombers.
These attacks come just as Nigeria’s new President Buhari prepares for his trip to the United States to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss strategies in fighting Boko Haram insurgents. The attacks also shed a light on the difficulties that the Nigerian military has been having when dealing with Boko Haram prior to President Buhari firing the leaders of the military.
President Buhari released a statement on Friday after the attacks, requesting patience and understanding while he works to tackle Nigeria’s many problems.
“I was very aware of your high expectations when I assumed office and I reassure you, my fellow citizens, that since my inauguration … I have been working with utmost dedication to meticulously plan and tackle the many national challenges which we identified and promised to resolve.
“I also share the feelings of those who think that we should be moving faster. But I urge them and all Nigerians to trust that my commitment to real and positive change in our nation is as firm as ever,” Buhari said.
The newly appointed army commander, Major General Tukur Yusuf Buratai joined prayers on Friday with thousands of Muslims at Damaturu’s central mosque, saying that he will not tolerate a lack of discipline in the force that he is now commanding. So despite the sadness of the deaths of so many on Eid al-Fitr, it is clear that Nigeria is in hands that are willing to take the necessary steps to improve the nation and protect it from insurgents.