Nigeria has deployed 2,000 special forces troops to Maiduguri and the northeast, with the mission to capture Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and stabilize a region under renewed attack by Islamic extremists.
The troops are a response to a demand by Nigerian military leadership that Shekau be captured dead or alive within 40 days. That order was issued even as a July attack on a Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) exploration team that claimed 70 lives, including members of the team from the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID). Another three university personnel were taken as hostages.
The northeast has been at the epicenter of Boko Haram activity since the rise of the jihadist group in 2009, and more than two dozen people died in fresh attacks near Maiduguri on Tuesday.
Most of the fatalities occurred at the Mandarari market when a female bomber detonated her device, while two other female suicide attackers simultaneously detonated bombs at a nearby refugee camp. Some 45 people were critically injured, according to Al Jazeera, while a total of more than 80 victims were wounded.
The university itself has been the target of at least six attacks this year, with rumors in recent weeks that some 70 faculty members had resigned because of the violence. UNIMAID has denied that is the case.
Shekau released a new video this week, mocking President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Army chief who has ordered his capture. Despite Buhari’s claims since December 2015 that Boko Haram was under control, any final defeat of the extremist group has remained elusive.
Image: Shekau video