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Conflict

Fears of Boko Haram backlash over vigilantes

Brutal attacks on a mosque and a village in northeastern Nigeria that left dozens of people dead are raising questions about the military offensive lanched three months ago to end an Islamist insurgency.

A residents peers through the shattered widow of a badly-damaged car at the scene of an explosion targeting an open-air beer garden at Enugu Road in the downtown Sabon Gari neighbourhood of the city on July 30, 2013 in Kano. The death toll from a series of bomb blasts that rocked a mainly Christian area of northern Nigeria's largest city of Kano late on July 29 has risen to 12, the military said today, blaming Islamist group Boko Haram for the attacks. The statement blamed the attack on suspected Boko Haram members and said packages that caused the explosions were left in the mainly Christian Sabon Gari area of Kano. AFP PHOTO / AMINU ABUBAKAR (Photo credit should read AMINU ABUBAKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
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Nigeria Kano Anschlag

Nigeria media claimed on Tuesday (13.08.2013) that the death toll in a weekend attack by suspected members of the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram had risen to 60.

The deadly assaults on a mosque in Konduga, near Borno state's capital Maiduguri, and the village of Ngom in nearby Mafa district were believed to be out of revenge for activities of vigilante groups.

The Nigerian military had been encouraging the formation of citizens' vigilante groups to help find and arrest Boko Haram members.

On Sunday morning, 44 people were shot dead in the mosque, a senior government official said. In Mafa on Saturday night, the suspected insurgents shot 12 other people at their homes, according to another local official.

Residents said the attackers were wearing army camouflage, a tactic they have used in the past. Some also alleged that a number of victims' throats had been slit, but many details of the violence remain unclear and the military has not provided any official statement on the attacks.

A Joint Military Task Force (JTF) soldier positions his rifle on sand bags on the road in northeastern Nigerian town of Maiduguri, Borno State , on April 30, 2013. Fierce fighting between Nigerian troops and suspected Islamist insurgents, Boko Haram at Baga town in the restive northeastern Nigeria, on April 30, 2013 left dozens of people dead and scores of civilians injured. But the military denied the casualty figures claiming it was exaggerated to smear its image. Meanwhile normalcy has return to the town as residents are going about their normal business. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Nigeria imposed a state of emergency in three northern states in May to curb violent attacks by Boko Haram

But the military did confirm that the multinational wing of the Joint Task Force, drawn from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon had clashed with Boko Haram insurgents in Mallam Fatori in the Abadam local government area of northern Borno last week. Simultaneously, Boko Haram insurgents had laid siege to a police barracks in the town of Bama in central Borno.

Some Nigerian analysts, such as Umar Adamu, claim the latest violence shows that the state of emergency launched by President Goodluck Jonathan in the region in May isn't working. "If the insurgency is still on after the state of emergency, what can one say as an ordinary citizen? People feel helpless, because it is the responsibility of government to provide security for society," he told DW.

Confidence in government's ability to end insurgency dwindling

Abdulllahi Bawa Wase, analyst with the UN Department for Safety and Security, said attacks targeting people helping the authorities against Boko Haram were bound to continue.

"And there is more to it than that. Following the state of emergency, Boko Haram was pushed out to the border with Cameroon where there still hold sway," he said.

CROSS SECTION OF MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE ON DIALOGUE AND PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF SECURITY CHALLENGES IN THE NORTH DURING THEIR INAUGURATION AT THE PRESIDENTIAL VILLA ABUJA ON WEDNESDAY (24/4/13).

President Jonathan says he is still open to a peaceful solution with Islamist rebels and has set up an amnesty committee

Muhammad Al-Amin, a DW correspondent in northern Nigeria, says Nigerians have lost confidence in the committee set up by Jonathan to probe possible dialogue with Boko Haram as a means of ending the conflict, which has claimed more than 3,000 lives over the last four years.

Meanwhile Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau purportedly released a new video on Monday, accusing the Nigerian government and the military of misleading the public about the ongoing insurgency.

Speaking in Hausa and Arabic, he also claimed responsibility for various attacks in Mallam Fatori, Bama and Gamboru Ngala over the last two weeks.

The military has dismissed Shekau's previous claims as pure propaganda and say they are pursuing him. His whereabouts are unknown.

The army has given no indication how it intends to deal with this latest upsurge in violence.

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