In recent weeks the Boko Haram Islamist sect have come under increasing pressure from Nigerian and other military forces. Cameroon military foiled an attack on 22 September in Amchide, in the north west of Cameroon. It is reported that at least 11 Boko Haram militants died in the Amchide clash. On the same day two women suicide bombers were foiled in their planned attack of another town in northern Cameroon. They planned to make the attack on the regular Monday market in Gouzoudou but were stopped from entering the village and so detonated their bombs outside the village.
Boko Haram has intensified its attacks in Cameroon since it joined a Task Force to combat the group. There are more than 8,500 troops involved in the Task Force, from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroon.
A couple of days later Nigerian forces destroyed a fuel depot under Boko Haram’s control in Borno State, Nigeria.
And in a further setback to the militants, one of their commanders was arrested by troops advancing in the north-west of Africa’s most populous nation.
Sadly, Boko Haram have also had their successes. On 3 October bombs returned to the Federal capital, Abuja. The bombs went off in Kuje and Nyanya. In more than 6 years of insurgency nearly 20,000 people have died and nearly 1.5 million internally displaced in Nigeria. The day before, at least 10 and dozens injured in suicide bomb attacks in Maiduguri. There are also unconfirmed reports that Boko Haram have begun poisoning water sources in areas they are being forced out of in north-eastern Nigeria.
On the Church side there have also been positive developments. In an article in FIDES – the Vatican News Agency on 23 September last it is reported that people are returning to Maiduguri, capital of Borno State. The Social Communications Director for Maiduguri diocese speaking to Vatican Radio said that “most of our people are coming back to their communities”. Fr. Obasogie also said that “many towns, homes, schools, hospitals, bridges have been razed down by Boko Haram. Generally life and movement in this part of Nigeria is very difficult”. “A lot of our people are back, but they look sick, hungry and traumatised”.
The Bishop of Maiduguri, Oliver Dashe Doeme, has taken the unusual step of sending priests to these same communities where security is far from certain. He wants the priests to accompany the people as they try to rebuild their lives. The ordination of three new priests in one of the communities that was bombed and ransacked by Boko Haram was a sign of hope. Despite fears of new attacks, the faithful who even come from distant places of the diocese went to the ordination Mass. Fr. Obasogie finally stated that “the Buhari administration is doing its best to end the insurgency. The military is advancing and recapturing those communities that were under the terrorists’ control. Despite this, a lot of people are still afraid of the presence of suicide bombers around the city and villages”. (Agenzia Fides 23/09/2015)