As electoral campaigning in Nigeria comes to an end, Boko Haram, northeastern Nigeria’s Islamic rebel movement, is escalating its campaign of violence against Borno State’s ruling All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). Over the weekend Boko Haram assassinated an ANPP leader, and yesterday Boko Haram targeted an ANPP rally in Borno State’s capital, Maiduguri.
Suspected Islamist sect members on Tuesday opened fire outside of a political rally in northern Nigeria, sparking panic and a stampede that killed at least four people, police said.
The incident, days ahead of general elections, occurred after police earlier Tuesday discovered two homemade bombs in a car carrying three suspected Islamists believed to be heading for the same rally in the city of Maiduguri.
“Three suspected members of Boko Haram fired several shots from their AK-47 rifles from outside the venue, which caused panic and a stampede among party supporters attending the rally,” said assistant police commissioner Zakari Adamu.
“This resulted in the deaths of four people. The attackers slipped away before they could be arrested.”
Thousands of people were attending the rally for the All Nigerian Peoples Party, the ruling party in Borno state, where Maiduguri is the capital. No one was believed hit by the gunfire.
I have not yet seen a statement from Boko Haram explaining the goals behind these attacks, but I assume their purpose is to make the ANPP appear vulnerable, weak, and incapable of governing. Some Nigerian conspiracy theorists see Boko Haram as covert agents of another party, but from what I understand the movement rejects electoral politics, and instead advocates an Islamic state and the elimination of Western institutions in Nigeria, including Western-style democracy.