Twenty four hours after members of the extremist sect, Jama’atu ahlis sunnah lil daawati wal jihad, otherwise called Boko Haram, dismissed the resolve by governors and traditional rulers in the north to fight the sect, and pledged to escalate attacks on strategic telecommunication sites in the north east and north central regions of the country, men of the Joint task force (JTF) in Maiduguri killed seven of them in a gun battle and arrested thirteen others along Gwange junction.
JTF Spokesman, Sagir Musa, said security officials were conducting a cordon and search operation at Gwange junction when men he described as hoodlums started shooting at them. “The task force had no option than to respond with fire,” Mr. Musa said, adding, there were no fatalities on the part of the JTF operatives.
Mr. Abu Qaqa, the Boko Haram publicist, had boasted in an email message Thursday that the resolve by governors and traditional rulers in the north to fight the sect, “will come to nothing.” It was the first, direct, and public, response of the sect to the top structure of the northern elites.
Keen watchers of political events in the region believe the recent outburst of the sect represent a welling up of frustrations at recent security successes in disrupting their operational plans and eliminating key elements in its leadership ranks.
In response to these developments, Boko Haram tilted its operational fangs by attacking and destroying telecommunication base stations in Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, and Kano states claiming it was its way of punishing the telecommunication companies for alleged culpability in aiding security agencies to kill its members.
“We are attacking GSM [telecommunication] companies because they have helped security agencies to arrest and kill many of our members, and we will continue with our attacks on them until they stop,” said Mr. Abu Qaqa in his public rationalization of the act of arson.
Countering the Boko Haram rhetoric, Joint Task Force officials argued in return that the difficulties the sect was experiencing had its root in internal power play of the sect, and queried: “Did they register their SIM cards as Boko Haram members?” the JTF official queried adding that security agencies have no need for telecommunication companies to arrest sect members.