“If they’re part of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, if they’re in support of the northern Mali crisis, there’s every possibility that they will heighten their attacks,” Colonel Mohammed Yerima, director of information at Nigeria’s Defense Ministry, said today in an interview in Abuja, the capital. “On our own side, we’re strategizing how to counter them.”
Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and most populous nation, is battling an insurgency by Boko Haram Islamists that has killed hundreds of people since 2009. The group, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” has carried out bomb and gun attacks in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja.
Nigeria is contributing 1,200 troops to join France and soldiers from other West African countries in Mali to recapture territory lost to Islamist militants and ethnic Touareg separatists. The crisis may spill into Nigeria if not brought under control, President Goodluck Jonathan told lawmakers on Jan. 17.
Gunmen opened fire at a convoy of soldiers in the central Nigerian Kogi state Jan. 19 as they were on their way to join the West African Force in Mali, leaving two dead, the army said on Jan. 20.
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