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*Nigerian Newspapers Bombed By Islamic Terrorist Group
Eight people were killed Thursday night around 11:30 GMT when Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group carried out coordinated attacks on two offices of Nigerian ThisDay Newspaper and two other papers. Three people were killed in the Abuja ThisDay office attack and five in Kaduna blasts. Witnesses, including ThisDay's Editorial Board Chairman said the attack in Abuja involved a suicide bomber in a jeep. A suicide bomber in a black Isuzu jeep according to witnesses forced his way through the back gate of ThisDay office and rammed his truck into the main building housing the printing press and other facilities. The whole place was ablaze as the bomb went off. Some sections of the newspaper building were completely destroyed. The impact of the blast also destroyed nearby commercial and residential buildings and caused panic and commotion at Jabi Motor Park which is directly opposite ThisDay building. Police and security forces cordoned off the area while paramedics and emergency workers evacuated the injured and removed bodies of the dead. Samson Oliver, a ThisDay employee was sleeping after a night shift when the blast occurred. Oliver told reporters: "When I woke up with shock and fear, I saw everywhere was so dark, something like smoke everywhere, and I ran out and saw that it was a bomb explosion." "The roof of the building was blown off, company and staff vehicles were also destroyed. I am certainly sure of the death of the two security men at the gate," a ThisDay reporter told newsmen. In contrast to accounts by witnesses, a spokesperson for Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency said the Abuja blast appeared to have been caused by a bomb planted inside the building.
The Kaduna attack was carried out outside a complex housing several newspapers. Media offices that were affected by the blast included ThisDay, Daily Sun and Moment newspapers. A smaller explosion was reported in the city shortly before 16:00 GMT, some distance from the newspapers building complex, which according to sources wounded two people. Witnesses told reporters an explosive device was thrown by a passenger on a motor bike at the junction of a highway. A man suspected to be a member of Boko Haram has been arrested in connection with the blasts and is still being interrogated at the time of this report. Hardest hit was ThisDay whose office in Jabi, Abuja, was almost brought down by the impact of the blast. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: People gather to view ThisDay Newspaper Jabi - Abuja office building heavily damaged by Boko Haram suicide bomb attack.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the newspaper offices bombing. The group in a statement published on Premium Times, a news website claimed the media was not reporting them accurately. It said that Boko Haram attacked ThisDay to send a strong message to the media that it would no longer condone reports misrepresenting her or blaming her for acts she knows nothing about. Abul Qaqa, spokesperson for the group told Premium Times in an exclusive interview that Boko Haram was fed up with the deliberate misinformation about her both in Nigerian and foreign news media. "The media in Nigeria are not a problem to us if they do their jobs professionally without taking sides," Abul Qaqa said, adding that each time they say something, it was either changed or downplayed. "But when our enemy says something even without logical proof, it is blown out of proportion. We have repeatedly cautioned reporters and media houses to be professional and objective in their reports. This is a war between us and the Government of Nigeria; unfortunately the media have not been objective and fair in their report of the ongoing war, they chose to take sides," Qaqa added. He identified three instances he claimed his group was deliberately misrepresented by the press. The first was the rumour of his capture by Nigerian intelligence agencies. “Some reporters are aware that I am Abul Qaqa, they know my voice through our long interactions and they also know the role of Abu Darda who heads the enlightenment committee and sometimes facilitates interviews; yet they (media) go by the unsubstantiated view of government that Abul Qaqa is in custody and I am the new spokesman or number two,” he said.
The second media misrepresentation according to Qaqa was the report on the kidnappings of foreigners in Northern Nigeria. He said: “Another issue was the recent kidnappings in the north; we were clear with our position as a group during a teleconference with reporters but we were shocked the next day when newspaper headlines added a lot of things which I never said during that interview.” The third misrepresentation according to him was the mistranslation of the video the group posted recently on YouTube. “Another example is the recent video posted on YouTube by our Imam; I challenge every Nigerian to watch that video again. There is no place our imam either said he will crush President Jonathan or issued an ultimatum to the government in Nigeria; but nearly all papers carried very wrong and mischievous headlines,” he said to support the assertion. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: A victim of the attack
When asked why ThisDay was primarily targeted, Qaqa said ThisDay’s sins were more grievous. “It is not only THISDAY that has been engaged in negative media campaign, fictional stories and constantly promoting fake stories by the JTF to give an impression that they are making headway against us yet there is no time the media investigated further as an objective and responsible bystander in this war. They once insulted the Prophet Mohammed in 2001 and we have not forgotten. They recently said our Imam executed me which is false. Here I am speaking to you, I am alive and healthy. The sins of THISDAY are more,” he said. He warned of more attacks on media. "We have just started this new campaign against the media and we will not stop here, we will hit the media hard since they have refused to listen to our plea for them to be fair in their reportage," Qaqa warned. Last month the group issued stern warning to Nigerian journalists not to misrepresent its views.
Boko Haram whose name in Hausa language means "western education is sinful" is modeled after Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It wants to impose sharia law across Nigeria through terror attacks in drawing attention to their demands. Human Rights Watch says over 1000 people have been killed since Boko Haram began its terror campaign in July 2009, including over 250 so far in January this year. Boko Haram casualties are from diverse attacks on churches, government buildings, police stations and other targets, including drive-by shootings. Many have fled the north from these attacks. The recent attacks, approximately a year after Osama bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs in Pakistan, were a bloody reminder of Al-Qaeda's growing "Africanization". Boko Haram of Nigeria, al-Shabaab of Somalia, Ansar Dine of Mali and similar Islamic African groups fly Al-Qaeda flag but autonomous from her. They receive little or no direct support from Al-Qaeda, but motivated by its idealogy. Boko Haram draws support from segments of Muslim northern Nigeria who see the current Nigerian administration as a Christian government. Some of their fighters are recruited from Muslim North African countries.
Boko Haram has announced its official name to be Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Liddaáwati wal-Jihad which in English means People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.
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