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Boko Haram Bomber Hits Nigerian Market


There are reports today of another deadly suicide bombing in northeastern Nigeria by suspected Islamic insurgents. Despite the formation of a regional force in a recent offensive against Boko Haram, attacks continue in Nigeria and across its borders. Of course, Nigeria has postponed a much-anticipated presidential election until the end of this month because of security concerns. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton joins us on the line from Lagos. Thanks very much for being with us.


SIMON: It seems we hear about almost daily bombings and raids in Nigeria. How successful is the multinational force?

QUIST-ARCTON: And that's what many Nigerians are asking. If the Nigerian military couldn't subdue Boko Haram within six years, how is it going to do that within six months of these elections being postponed? But there certainly is determination from the region because, of course, the violence by these extremists has spilled over Nigeria's borders. And there have been attacks in Chad, in Cameroon, in Niger. So there is certainly determination.

SIMON: Boko Haram seems undaunted by the regional troops?

QUIST-ARCTON: Well, the attacks continue. It's true that we're seeing more guerrilla tactics than a conventional sort of war, if you can call it that. But even this morning, we're hearing that Maiduguri, which is the main city in the northeast, has come under attack, that there have been bomb blasts there. So it's certainly not giving up - that's for sure.

SIMON: And what are Nigerians saying to you?

QUIST-ARCTON: That they really want peace. That this has been going on for far too long. They're hoping now that with the involvement of neighboring countries that there will be some sort of resolution to this. And as I've said, Scott, we're now approaching elections in about three weeks here in Nigeria - key presidential elections. Both sides, of course, are making capital out of this. President Goodluck Jonathan, who is seeking re-election, says that they will calm the situation, that they will have Boko Haram under control. And the main opposition presidential challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, who is a former military leader here in Nigeria, says he is the one who is tough on security - so vote for me.

SIMON: I don't want to lose sight of the fact that almost a year ago, 200 and more schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram. It prompted the worldwide Bring Back Our Girls campaign. Any developments there?

QUIST-ARCTON: Not that we know of. President Goodluck Jonathan and the military have been promising that these girls will be released, but it hasn't happened. And, Scott, let's just remember that it's not only the Chibok schoolgirls who were taken from their dorms in April last year. Many children, boys and girls, and women and men have been abducted since they were kidnapped a year ago. Nigerians want an end to this. They say, how can you use 10-year-old children, 8-year-old children in bombing attacks? This must stop. Boko Haram must be contained.

SIMON: NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is on the line from Lagos. Thanks very much for being with us.

QUIST-ARCTON: Always a pleasure, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.