Nigerian Army Bans Satellite Phones in Northeast After Attacks

Nigeria banned the use of satellite phones in part of the northeast region after suspected Boko Haram Islamists killed 18 people in two days in renewed attacks.

The militant group, whose name means “Western Education is a sin” in the local Hausa language, used satellite phones “to coordinate their recent assassination of civilians especially school children and some Imams,” Sagir Musa, a spokesman for the military task force fighting the insurgents, said in a statement handed to reporters today in Maiduguri. Anyone seen with such phones or accessories will be arrested, he said.

At least nine students between 15 and 19 years were killed by suspected Boko Haram gunmen on June 17 in a school in Maiduguri. Seven students and two teachers were killed a day earlier at another school in the city of Damaturu, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

The militant group has carried out gun and bomb attacks in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north and Abuja, the capital, since 2009, in which thousands have died, in its bid to establish Shariah rule in Africa’s most populous country. Nigeria’s more than 160 million people are roughly split between Christians, who are mostly in the south, and Muslims mainly in the north.

President Goodluck Jonathan declared emergency rule in Borno and two other northeastern states on May 14, saying the militants were taking over parts of the region. Authorities shut phone networks in parts of the area to disrupt communication among militant fighters.

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