Nigeria Launching Massive Offensive Against Boko Haram

As Nigeria Bombards Northeast, US Warns Against Civilian Deaths

by Jason Ditz, May 17, 2013

After several abortive attempts, Nigeria’s military is now launching its “biggest ever” offensive against the northeast of its country, aimed at destroying the Boko Haram faction that is currently dominating the region. Dozens have been reported killed, but that is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Nigeria has been struggling to cope with Boko Haram for some time. The group, an Islamist faction that openly rejects Western education, got its start as an anti-technology faction, but after a previous military massacre adopted modern terrorist tactics.

Nigeria’s recent attacks against Boko Haram areas have seen major civilian death tolls, and locals have reported the military was eager to kill civilian bystanders, arguing that they are in part responsible for Boko Haram’s existence.

So reports that today’s offensive began with air strikes across the region has the US State Department warning Nigeria against “gross human rights violations.” The US has openly backed Nigeria’s military in the past but seems to be finally noticing that the bloodiest military offensives seem to just fuel more militancy.

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