As election season gets underway in Nigeria, terrorist bomb attacks continue in towns and cities and President Goodluck Jonathan vowed an end to the violence.
News outlet AFP reports that at least 86 people were killed in explosions blamed on Islamist group Boko Haram this week at crowded bus stations in the northeast, north, and Nigeria's central region. The attacks utilized explosives in bags or suicide bombers, prompting the Nigerian government to issue a warner for increased retaliation at "soft targets."
Elections take place on March 28, and Boko Haram vows to disrupt the safety of voters at polling stations, the AFP reported. "Boko Haram will know that it lacks the resources or capacity to engage the Nigerian Army and its allies in conventional warfare, so its retributive attacks will increasingly focus on asymmetric warfare, which is resource-light but nevertheless damaging," Ryan Cummings, chief Africa analyst at Red24 risk consultants, told AFP.
Boko Haram began capturing and seizing territory in northeast Nigeria last year, in particular the cities of Kano and Maiduguri, and the government declared a state of emergency in May 2013 in three northeast states. Military and civilian forces are putting up a valiant fight and effort to push out the extremist rebels into remote, rural areas where violence continued and intensified.
Three separate bombings in the central region left hundreds of people dead and renewed fears of more attacks in urban centers, as troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon take on the rebels. President Jonathan visited the ravaged town of Baga last week, telling troops the conflict - which has killed more than 13,000 and left 1.5 million homeless since 2009 - would soon be over. The elections were postponed six weeks from Valentine's Day because of ongoing military operations, the AFP reported. However, a national security advisor said troops would not be available to provide security on voting day.
"Our soldiers have neither received the necessary support nor the required incentive to tackle this problem," Buhari recently told the AFP. "Let me assure you that if I'm elected president, I vow to change that. We will give them adequate modern arms and ammunition, we will improve intelligence gathering...we will be tough on terrorists and tough on its root causes...in the affected areas."