Posts Tagged ‘suicide bombings’

Boko Haram: Suicide Bombs Kill 31 in Nigeria

June 17, 2018

Suspected Boko Haram jihadists killed at least 31 people in a twin suicide bomb attack on a town in northeast Nigeria, a local official and a militia leader told AFP on Sunday.

Two blasts ripped through the town of Damboa in Borno state on Saturday evening targeting people returning from celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday, in an attack bearing all the hallmarks of Boko Haram.

Following the suicide bombings, the jihadists fired rocket-propelled grenades into the crowds that had gathered at the scene of the attacks, driving the number of casualties higher.

“There were two suicide attacks and rocket-propelled grenade explosions in Damboa last night which killed 31 people and left several others injured,” said local militia leader Babakura Kolo.

Two suicide bombers detonated their explosives in Shuwari and nearby Abachari neighbourhoods in the town around 10:45 pm (2145GMT), killing six residents, said Kolo, speaking from the state capital Maiduguri, which is 88 kilometres (55 miles) from the town.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

FILE photo

“No one needs to be told this is the work of Boko Haram,” Kolo said.

A local government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the death toll.

“The latest death toll is now 31 but it may increase because many among the injured may not survive,” said the official.

“Most of the casualties were from the rocket projectiles fired from outside the town minutes after two suicide bombers attacked,” he said.

The attack is the latest example of Boko Haram’s continued threat to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, said Ryan Cummings, Africa analyst at the Signal Risk consultancy in South Africa.

“Boko Haram still maintains both the intent and operational capacity to launch mass casualty attacks in parts of northeastern Nigeria,” Cummings said, despite the government’s repeated claims that the group is on the back foot.

The use of the rockets is “particularly conspicuous,” Cummings said, as it “indicates that the sect continues to have access to military-grade weaponry.”

“The Boko Haram insurgency is not showing any immediate signs of” easing, said Cummings.

– Suicide bombings –

The jihadist group has regularly deployed suicide bombers — many of them young girls — in mosques, markets and camps housing people displaced by the nine-year insurgency.

On May 1 at least 86 people were killed in twin suicide blasts targeting a mosque and a nearby market in the town of Mubi in neighbouring Adamawa state.

The attacks have devastated Nigeria’s northeast, one of the country’s poorest regions where illiteracy and unemployment are rampant.

Seeking purpose and money, disillusioned and jobless young men have turned to the radical Islam of Boko Haram, which decries Western colonialism and the modern Nigerian state.

In their quest to carve out a caliphate, the jihadists have razed towns to the ground, kidnapped women and children and slaughtered thousands of others, putting many more on the brink of starvation.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari came into power in 2015 vowing to stamp out Boko Haram but the jihadists continue to stage frequent attacks, targeting both civilians and security forces.

The militants stormed the Government Girls Technical College in Dapchi on February 19, seizing over 100 schoolgirls in a carbon copy of the abduction in Chibok in 2014 that caused global outrage.

The deadly violence has put Buhari under pressure as elections approach in February next year.

Along with Boko Haram, Buhari faces the continued threat of militants in the oil-rich south, separatists in the southeast and an upsurge in communal violence in the country’s central region.

Injured men in hospital after a suicide bomber attack in northeastern Nigeria last month, with another 31 killed late Saturday in a similar attack suspected to be the work of Boko Haram jihadists.

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Air Force fighter jets kill many Boko Haram terrorists in Borno

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/06/air-force-fighter-jets-kill-many-boko-haram-terrorists-borno/

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Indonesia hit by new terror attack after deadly suicide bombings — Part of long struggle with Islamist militancy

May 16, 2018

Four men who attacked an Indonesian police headquarters with samurai swords were shot dead Wednesday and one officer also died, authorities said, days after a wave of deadly suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State group rocked the country.

© AFP / by Wahyudi | Relatives and friends of Martha Djumani attend her funeral in Surabaya

The assault in the city of Pekanbaru on Sumatra island saw a group ram their minivan into a gate at the station and then attack officers with the swords, police said.

It was not clear if Wednesday’s incident was linked to other attacks this week, which saw two families — who all belonged to the same religious study group — stage suicide bombings at churches and a police station in Surabaya on Java island, Indonesia’s second biggest city.

AFP

The attacks have put Indonesia on edge — and sparked a string of travel advisories from foreign governments — as the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country starts the holy fasting month of Ramadan from Thursday.

Police said they shot dead four of the police station attackers and later arrested another who had fled.

One officer was killed by the speeding vehicle and two others were wounded in the incident, they added.

Local media said one attacker may have had a bomb strapped to his body but police have not confirmed the reports. No group has yet taken responsibility for the attack.

The bloody violence is putting pressure on lawmakers to pass a stalled security law that would give police more power to take pre-emptive action against terror suspects.

Indonesia — which is set to host the Asian Games in just three months and an IMF-World Bank meeting in Bali in October — has long struggled with Islamist militancy.

Its worst-ever attack was the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people — including locals and foreign tourists.

– ‘Better organised’ –

Security forces have arrested hundreds of militants during a sustained crackdown since the Bali bombing, and most attacks in recent years have been low-level and targeted domestic security forces.

But on Sunday, a family of six — including girls aged nine and 12 — staged suicide bombings at three churches during morning services in Surabaya, killing 13.

All six bombers died, including the mother who was Indonesia’s first known female suicide bomber. It was also the first time children had been used in such attacks.

A memorial service was held Wednesday for Vincencius Hudojo, 11, and Nathanael Hudojo, 8, two brothers who died after the blast at the Santa Maria Catholic Church on Sunday in Surabaya. Their mother was injured.

Services were also held for Martha Djumani, 54, who was killed in the bombing at a Pentecostal church, just a day after she had got engaged.

“My sister was always caring towards other people and taught her children to be compassionate,” Daud Samari, Djumani’s younger brother, told reporters.

On Monday members of another family blew themselves up at a police station in Surabaya, wounding 10.

The church bombing family were in the same religious study group as the Surabaya police station bombers and a third family believed to be linked to the wave of attacks, authorities said.

“They had the same teacher and they regularly met for Koran recital every week,” said East Java police chief Machfud Arifin.

The coordinated church attack was a sign local extremist groups were becoming more proficient, and stirs concerns about an uptick in extremism as hundreds of Indonesians who flocked to fight alongside Islamic State in the Middle East return home.

“They were better organised…and suggests a higher level of capacity than what we have seen in recent years,” said Sidney Jones, director of Jakarta-based Institute of Policy Analysis for Conflict.

The families have been linked to the local chapter of Indonesian extremist network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which police said was behind the attacks.

The radical group supports Islamic State, whose ambitions have been curbed after losing most of the land it once occupied in Iraq and Syria.

Police have said the church and earlier police station attacks were likely motivated by the arrest of JAD leaders.

They followed a deadly prison riot staged by Islamist prisoners at a high-security jail near Jakarta last week.

by Wahyudi

Pakistan: Time To Get Hatred Out of Sermons — Develop a code of conduct — Special Branch can monitor and enforce

March 28, 2018
March 28, 2018
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IT has been nearly 10 years since an angry mob raged through the streets of Gojra in the early morning hours of Aug 1, 2009. The trouble had begun the day before, Friday, when certain xenophobic clerics had incited Muslim villagers, citing rumours about the desecration of religious verses. On that grim day, around 10 Christians were burned alive.

The television news footage showed houses on fire, burnt furniture scattered on the streets. Gunshots still rang out through the air; it appeared that people were shooting at each other from the rooftops.

Later on, when the dead and injured were counted, when the politicians woke up and began to offer their thoughts and prayers, the tragic toll, besides the number of dead and injured, would become apparent: a community devastated by the anger of a mob motivated by hate.

There have been other incidents of hate and of sectarian violence since Gojra. And like Gojra, some have begun on Friday afternoons, after a preacher harbouring extremist views has riled up the fervour and sensitivities of the crowd before him. There have been times when such angry mobs have killed; or, if they have not, they have demanded murder or defended murderers.

Those who use freedom to abridge and destroy the freedom of others must not be permitted to do so.

For a very long time, there has been no accountability, no real means of connecting the men who are accused of preaching hate to a congregation of faithfuls to the incensed mobs that then march out into the streets. It has been assumed that the men standing at the pulpit, delivering the sermons, can do no wrong, can say no wrong, are disconnected from the rising levels of animosity and hatred that is, tragically, on the increase in many parts of the country.

Until this March, it did seem that little would change when it came to sermons inciting hatred and delivered by a section of clerics. On March 2 this year, the government, specifically the interior ministry, announced that it was considering 44 subjects that would be considered permissible topics for Friday sermons. The plan would be disseminated among the 1003 mosques in the Islamabad area as a pilot project.

According to officials of the National Counter Terrorism Authority, or Nacta, which collaborated to create the project, the plan has been developed after looking at similar plans implemented in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In all of those countries, appropriate themes have been given to clerics who prepare their Friday sermons in accordance with the directives.

On March 25, the committee overseeing the plan announced that it would be implemented and that the government would, in fact, be issuing a list of permissible themes to be addressed at the Friday sermon.

While many clerics in Islamabad have expectedly opposed the plan, insisting that the religious institutions and mosques in the city are controlled by the Auqaf department and not the capital’s administration, the committee that has decided to implement the plan contains representatives from both the Auqaf department and the administration.

The monitoring of the sermons (to ensure that clerics are complying with the approved themes) will be carried out by the Auqaf department, the capital administration and the Special Branch of the Islamabad Police.

In the days and weeks to come there are likely to be many obstacles to this sort of directive.

Over the years, while many other facets of Pakistani life have been circumscribed — made subject to diktats and directives, just laws and sometimes unjust laws, the whims of military rulers, the eccentricities of democratic rulers — the clergy has faced none. Some clerics who purport to represent the majority of Pakistanis have taken it upon themselves to issue directives and incite extremism.

The involvement of Nacta illustrates this — in hundreds, possibly even thousands, of mosques, clerics urge support for extremist thought, even violence, whilst ignoring the reality that thousands of Pakistanis have died as a result of violent tactics.

For too long, hate-filled clerics have remained above the law, able to operate with impunity.

Freedom is a great thing, particularly in relation to faith. However, in this case, the freedom accorded to clerics has been used to abridge the freedom of so many Pakistanis to practise their own faith and in their own way. Those who use freedom to abridge and destroy the freedom of others must not be permitted to do so; they can only be seen as the enemies of freedom itself, and they must not be allowed to misuse their authority in religious matters.

This monitoring and theme-implementation project will, at its inception, only be operative in Islamabad. The Special Branch has the capacity to implement the plan and monitor it. Close monitoring is essential to ensure that mosque leaders see that this is not a symbolic move.

In terms of the programme’s implementation in the rest of the country, there will be a need to enhance the monitoring abilities of the police. In this age of closed-circuit television, however, actual people may not be necessary to identify those who are not complying with the interior ministry’s approved themes. The directive could simply require that all mosques submit a text of the Friday sermon in written form prior to delivery and a recording following it.

The regulation of Friday sermons and the development of a code of conduct that ensures that our religious institutions are not abused or made into hotbeds of inciting hatred is crucial to the welfare of Pakistan. A mosque is a place for prayer and reverence, and the monitoring and regulation of Friday sermons will ensure that it can continue to be sacred and respected.

The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.

rafia.zakaria@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1398019/removing-hate-from-sermons

See also:

Time to address Pakistan’s xenophobia

Pakistan clerics issue fatwa against suicide bombings

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-religion/pakistan-clerics-issue-fatwa-against-suicide-bombings-idUSKBN1F50L3

Trump urges ‘decisive action’ on Taliban after latest Kabul bombing Talks of “wicked ideology.”

January 28, 2018

President Donald Trump. (AP)
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WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump called for “decisive action” against the Taliban on Saturday after a bomb attack killed at least 95 people in one of the biggest blasts to rock war-torn Kabul in years.
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“I condemn the despicable car bombing attack in Kabul today that has left scores of innocent civilians dead and hundreds injured. This murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners,” Trump said in a statement.
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“Now, all countries should take decisive action against the Taliban and the terrorist infrastructure that supports them.”
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Afghanistan has been plunged into war since the October 2001 US invasion — the opening shots in Washington’s “war on terrorism.”
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“The Taliban’s cruelty will not prevail,” Trump added.
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“The United States is committed to a secure Afghanistan that is free from terrorists who would target Americans, our allies and anyone who does not share their wicked ideology.”
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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemned the “senseless” attack, insisting there can be “no tolerance for those who support or offer sanctuary to terrorist groups.”
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An explosives-packed ambulance was used for the bombing in a crowded part of the Afghan capital. Terrified survivors fled the area which was scattered with body parts, blood and debris, and hospitals were overwhelmed by the large number of wounded, who numbered at least 158.
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“The Taliban’s use of an ambulance as a weapon to target civilians represents inhumane disregard for the people of Afghanistan and all those working to bring peace to the country,” Tillerson said, adding that the attack breached “the most basic international norms.”
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“All countries who support peace in Afghanistan have an obligation to take decisive action to stop the Taliban’s campaign of violence.”
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Although Tillerson did not name any specific countries, Washington has repeatedly accused Pakistan of neglect in cracking down on militant groups such as the Taliban or their Haqqani allies.
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Trump lashed out at Pakistan in early January, denouncing Islamabad’s “lies” and “deceit” in the fight against terrorism — with the US suspending hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance.
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BBC News
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Kabul attack: Taliban kill 95 with ambulance bomb in Afghan capital

 How the attack unfolded

A suicide bombing has killed at least 95 people and injured 158 others in the centre of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, officials say.

Attackers drove an ambulance laden with explosives past a police checkpoint in a secure zone, home to government offices and foreign embassies.

The Taliban have said they carried out the attack, the deadliest for months.

Injured Afghans ran from the scene of the blast, stepping over the dead and the wounded. Kabul’s hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of injured people. Credit Andrew Quilty for The New York Times

US President Donald Trump called for “decisive action” against the group after the “despicable” bombing.

A week ago, Taliban militants killed 22 people in a luxury Kabul hotel.

What happened in the latest attack?

Witnesses say the area – also home to offices of the European Union, a hospital and a shopping zone known as Chicken Street – was crowded with people when the bomb exploded on Saturday at about 12:15 local time (08:45 GMT).

Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, said the attacker got through a security checkpoint after telling police he was taking a patient to nearby Jamhuriat hospital.

He detonated the bomb at a second checkpoint, said Mr Rahimi.

The BBC’s Zia Shahreyar, speaking from the scene, says it is not easy to get through the checkpoints. Cars are searched and drivers’ identities checked.

He adds that questions will be asked about how the attacker got through.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the use of an ambulance was “harrowing”.

What did witnesses say?

MP Mirwais Yasini told the BBC the area looked like a butcher’s afterwards.

He was having lunch at his family home, just metres away, when the blast went off. “First of all we thought it was inside our house,” he said. Then he went outside and saw scattered bodies. “It is very, very inhumane.”

Another witness, a software engineer who wished to remain anonymous, told the BBC he was about a 1km away when he heard the noise.

“I saw a huge flame,” he said. “The smoke was pungent. It entered my eyes and I was not able to see for some time.”

He said when he moved closer he saw the dead bodies, and it looked like a “brutal graveyard”.

“It was a terrible moment. [The area] is completely destroyed.”

Map of Kabul showing area hit by ambulance bomb on 27 January 2018

What was the response?

The Afghan government has condemned the bombing as a crime against humanity, and accused Pakistan of providing support to the attackers.

The Taliban control large swathes of Afghanistan and parts of neighbouring Pakistan.

Pakistan denies supporting militants that carry out attacks in Afghanistan. This month, the US cut its security aid to Pakistan, saying it had failed to take action against terrorist networks on its soil.

A man reacts after hearing his son was killed in a Kabul bombing, 27 January 2018Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe injured and distressed were helped away from the scene

What is the reaction in the rest of the world?

In a statement, US President Donald Trump said:

“I condemn the despicable car bombing attack in Kabul today that has left scores of innocent civilians dead and hundreds injured. This murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: “Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are a serious violation of human rights and humanitarian laws, and can never be justified.”

In France, the Eiffel Tower will turn off its lights on Saturday night as a mark of respect for the dead and injured.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo made the announcement on Twitter. “The city of Paris and Parisians are with the Afghan people who are once again facing terrorist barbarity,” she said.

How does it compare to other recent attacks?

The attack is the deadliest in Kabul in several months.

In October, 176 people were killed in bomb attacks across Afghanistan in one week. The country’s security forces in particular have suffered heavy casualties at the hands of the Taliban, who want to re-impose their strict version of Islamic law in the country.

In May, 150 people were killed by a suicide bomb attack in Kabul. The Taliban denied any role, but the Afghan government says its affiliate, the Haqqani group, carried it out with support from Pakistan.

a wounded boy with blood on his face being bandaged by medical staff
More than 150 people were wounded in the bombing. AFP photo
mangle structures blown halfway down a street, with debris all over the pavements and people crowding around a plume of smoke in the background
The area of the attack was a scene of devastation. EPA photo
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Who are the Taliban?

  • The hardline Islamic Taliban movement swept to power in Afghanistan in 1996 after the civil war which followed the Soviet-Afghan war, and were ousted by the US-led invasion five years later, but returned to run some key areas
  • In power, they imposed a brutal version of Sharia law, such as public executions and amputations, and banned women from public life
  • Men had to grow beards and women to wear the all-covering burka; television, music and cinema were banned
  • They sheltered al-Qaeda leaders before and after being ousted – since then they have fought a bloody insurgency which continues today
  • In 2016, Afghan civilian casualties hit a new high – a rise attributed by the UN largely to the Taliban
  • Civilian casualties remained at high levels in 2017, the UN said
Kabul street with smoke in distance
A plume of smoke from the explosion was seen around the city. BBC
An injured man is carried away from the site of a deadly suicide attack Saturday in Kabul.

hospital corridors filled to the brim
Kabul hospitals were overwhelmed with patients in the aftermath. Credit WAKIL KOHSAR
A huge plume of smoke rose above Kabul [Al Jazeera]

Pakistan: “Terrorism is forbidden.”

January 20, 2018

 

The Frontier Post report from Islamabad states that Pakistan issued its national narrative, declaring terrorism is forbidden and jihad as the sole prerogative of the state in light of the Islamic injunctions. The narrative has come in the form of a book — Paigham-e-Pakistan (The Message of Pakistan) — which has been endorsed by more than 1,800 edict issuing authorities.
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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday launched its national counter-terrorism declaring Jihad (Islamic holy war) as the prerogative of state only and calling suicide attacks ‘haram’ (forbidden) in the light of Holy Quran and Sunnah.

The narrative ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan’ that comprises a 22-point Fatwa (religious decree), inked by over 1800 religious scholars of all schools of thought hailing from across the country rejects terrorism, extremism, sectarian hatred and use of force to impose Shariah as a “rebellion” against the state.

The national narrative launched by President Mamnoon Hussain at a ceremony here at the President House attended by ministers, religious scholars, vice chancellors of universities and diplomats , is the culmination of efforts by the Islamic Re-search Institute of the Inter-national Islamic University.

The document is based on the decree of religious scholars from all schools of thoughts in the country and is in accordance with the injunctions of the Holy Quran, the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and the Constitution of Pakistan.

“Those, who are conducting, facilitating, financing and promoting such heinous acts, are rebels and the State of Pakistan has legitimate authority to take all possible measures against them,” according to the document.

The ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan’ declares that Jihad involving physical combat and waging war were the prerogative of the state, and no individual or group has the authority to declare and wage Jihad.

“Such initiatives of an individual or group shall be deemed interference in the state authority, and such actions shall be considered as acts of rebellion against the state and according to Islamic teachings is a heinous crime punishable under ta’zir.”

It also points out that sectarian hatred, armed sectarian conflict and imposing one’s ideology on others by force is in clear violation of the injunctions of the Shariah and are a “disorder on earth”.

The Fatwa states that the core objective of all educational institutions in Pakistan is enlightenment, schooling and character building and th-ese must not impart any hostile military education, training, hatred, extremism and violence.

The national narrative reminds all Pakistani citizens that they are bound to protect the national interests as top priority.

“Damaging public unity and national interests are also forbidden in light of Holy Quran and Sunnah. Renunciation and breach of national interests is to be taken as high treason and therefore shall be dealt as per the Islamic injunctions.”

The document strongly supports the military operations initiated to strengthen the security and stability in Pakistan. It declares as forbidden the use of force to impose ‘Shariah’ in Pakistan, armed struggle against the Pakistani state and all other forms of terrorist activities.

“All such actions are considered as rebellion against the state, benefitting the enemies of Islam and Pakistan.”

The document states that the land of Pakistan is a sacred trust from God.

“Every inch of it is a great blessing from Almighty. Therefore, the land of Pakistan at no time shall be allowed to be used for the propagation of any kind of terrorism,” the document states and bars any type of  intellectual and practical training of terrorism, terrorists, their recruitment and conducting of such activities in Pakistan and other countries.

The Fatwa categorically mentions the dignified status given to the women and says that Islam protects their rights and points to the last sermon of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). It states that the women have the right to vote, education and employment, and to destroy their education institutions, attack on female students and educationists is contrary to human values, Islamic teachings and the law of the land.

It points out that honour killing, marriage with Quran, exchange marriage and violation of other women rights is strictly prohibited as per the injunctions of Islam.

The Fatwa discourages all forms of illegal use of loudspeaker, calls for strict legal action against hate speeches, delivered from the platform of mosque, and demands that polemical discussion on religious topics is reprehensible and be declared cognizable crime. The unanimous document states that non-Muslims living in Pakistan enjoy all such civil and legal rights for the protection of their life, property and dignity that their fellow Muslims avail, within the bounds of the law and Constitution. The non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan have full right to worship in their places of worship and pursue their religious celebrations as per the teachings of their religions, it adds. The document while allowing all schools of thoughts to propagate their doctrines, beliefs and juristic ideologies as per the Shar’iah, however makes it clear that no one is permitted to speak or write against any person, or other schools of thought using any insolence, hatred or baseless allegations.

The document has been prepared with the assistance and support of the academia from Pakistani universities,  in cooperation with the Wafaq-ul-Madaris al-Arabiyyah, Tanzim-ul_Ma-daris Ahl-e-Sunnat, Wafaq-ul-Madaris al-Salfiyyah, Wa-faq-ul-Madaris al-Shi’ah and Rabitat-ul-Madaris Pakistan.  Also eminent religious scholars from Dar-ul-Uloom Kar-achi, Dar-ul-Uloom Muham-madiah Ghausia Bhera Sh-arif, Jamia Binoria Karachi, Jamiat al-Muntazar Lahore, Jamia Ash-rafia Lahore, Jam-ia Haqqania Akora Khattak, Jamia Muha-mmadiah Islam-abad and Jamia Faridiah Islamabad.

The Paigham-e-Pakistan is the outcome of over a several months long process that identifies the problems being faced by the state and provides solutions to devise a strategy to achieve the goals of the Objectives Resolution.

http://thefrontierpost.com/national-narrative-declares-jihad-states-prerogative-terms-suicide-attacks-haram/

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Pakistan to keep its national interests supreme; not to take dictation: Khawaja Asif

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif on Thursday said that Pakistan will always keep national interest supreme before taking decisions and will not take dictation from any external power or other country.

During question hour, he said “We will give priority to our own interests and will not take dictation from any power and country while taking important decisions”.

Khawaja Asif said that national interests were not kept supreme in the past but now Pakistan had been trying to play role to protect its interest. “We will continue our efforts for peace on Eastern and Western borders but dictation would be not taken from others and national interests would be kept on priority”, he maintained.

He said Pakistan trade relations with Afghanistan have been affected during the last few years. He said that Afghanistan insists to give it trade route through Wagah border which had been denied.

He said that the Speaker National Assembly has summoned the meeting of National Security Council on February 1,to discuss many issues including relation with Afghanistan.

The minister said that Pakistan’s decision to join US in 1989, 1990 and 9/11 was not in the best interest of the country.

Khawaja Asif said “Pakistan pursues the policy of peaceful neighborhood. Our focus is on maintaining and strengthening peaceful and friendly relations with all neighboring countries including China, Iran, Afghanistan and India,on the basis of mutual respect and equality.”

He said that in recent years, Pakistan had contributed hugely for the regional peace and security and taken successful military action against all elements that are detrimental to the peace and security of the region.

“Through our military operations, we have cleansed our territory of all terrorist groups that were threatening not only the peace in Pakistan but also in the region. We have deployed around 200,000 troops on our borders with Afghanistan to interdict cross border movement of the terrorist elements” he added.

Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan is building border management infrastructure along Pak-Afghan border with a view to encourage bilateral trade and facilitate legal travel between the two countries while making the illegal crossing of the border difficult.

He said, “Pakistan believes that peace and stability in Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan.

We believe that Pakistan benefits more than anyone if there is lasting peace in Afghanistan. We understand that a stable Afghanistan would help us promote our agenda of economic development and regional connectivity. “The foreign Minister said, “In our reckoning, the only solution to Afghan conflict lies in a politically negotiated settlement that is owned and led by Afghans. Towards this end, Pakistan as a policy participates in all Afghanistan related multilateral fora to contribute constructively to the peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

Only last month, he said, Pakistan participated in the first meeting of the China-Afghanistan- Pakistan ,Foreign Ministers Dialogue in Beijing.

“The three sides agreed to take joint steps against terrorism and not to let any country, group or individual to use their,territory for violence anywhere” he added.

Khawaja Asif said,“On bilateral plane, we had shared with Afghanistan a comprehensive engagement plan titled, Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity (APAPS) that envisages bilateral engagement under five working groups. We will be taking further steps in coordination with our Afghan brothers for early operationalization of the working groups.

He said that Pakistan has been home to millions of Afghan brethren,who were forced to leave their country by persistent conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has offered unprecedented hospitality and support to the Afghan people and extended life amenities like education and health at par with the Pakistani citizens, he added.

“Over 50,000 Afghans educated in Pakistani educational institutions, and are now working in Afghanistan’s public and private sectors, fulfilling the needs of their country” he added.

Foreign Minister said that Pakistan has extended 6,000 fully funded scholarships for Afghan students in Pakistan. Almost 3000 have already been availed and another batch of 750 Afghan students is set to start their scholarships in Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan dedicated 100 seats to the female candidates. In addition, Pakistan undertakes capacity building programs of Afghans from various professions.

To another question he said in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of a peaceful and friendly neighborhood, Pakistan is pursuing the policy of good relations with all the countries of the region including Bangladesh.

“Pakistan-Bangladesh relations are rooted in common history. Pakistan desires to maintain a forward looking approach in its bilateral relations with Bangladesh” he added.

However, the ties are currently weighed down by bitter memories of 1971. Pakistan has consistently urged the Bangladesh government to uphold its commitment as per the Tripartite Agreement of 1974. Pakistan desires to move ahead and Pakistan and Bangladesh can work together for the development of their respective countries.

 

 http://thefrontierpost.com/pakistan-keep-national-interests-supreme-not-take-dictation-khawaja-asif/

Pakistan warns US against unilateral military action

December 29, 2017

Al Jazeera

Image may contain: one or more people, night and outdoor

A military spokesman said that Pakistan would continue to fight armed groups in the region in Pakistan’s self-interest, rather than at the behest of other countries [File: Naseer Ahmed/Reuters]

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s military has warned the United States against the possibility of taking unilateral action against armed groups on its soil, in its strongest response yet to tensions between the two allies.

Speaking to journalists in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Thursday, Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor rejected the notion that Pakistan is not doing enough to fight armed groups.

“We have sacrificed a lot. We have paid a huge price both in blood and treasure,” Ghafoor said. “We have done enough and we cannot do any more for anyone.”

He said Pakistan would continue to fight armed groups in the region in Pakistan’s self-interest, rather than at the behest of other countries.

“Had we not supported [the US], al-Qaeda would not have been defeated,” he said.

Since 2007, Pakistan has been battling armed groups, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), al-Qaeda and their allies, who have been seeking to impose a strict version of Islam on the country. The military has launched multiple military operations to regain territory where the groups’ fighters once held sway.

Violence has dropped since the launch of the latest operation in 2014, but sporadic, high-casualty attacks continue to occur. Earlier this month, at least nine people were killed in a suicide bombing on a church in the southwestern city of Quetta.

The US has often called on Pakistan to “do more” in its fight against armed groups, accusing it of selectively targeting armed groups and not taking action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, both of whom target US and Afghan forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.

US criticism

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson repeated the call for Pakistan to take on groups allegedly offered safe haven on its soil.

“We are prepared to partner with Pakistan to defeat terrorist organisations seeking safe havens, but Pakistan must demonstrate its desire to partner with us,” he wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times.

Tillerson’s message echoed US President Donald Trump’s words when he announced a new South Asia strategy in August, singling out Pakistan for criticism. Since then, a series of high-level contacts between the two governments have taken place, although no breakthrough achievements have been announced.

During his press conference on Thursday, Ghafoor linked the difficulty of acting against armed groups such as the Haqqani Network to the number of Afghan refugees resident in Pakistan.

The country is home to more than 2.7 million Afghan refugees, by the military’s figures, many of whom have lived in Pakistan for more than three decades.

Follow Asad Hashim on Twitter: @AsadHashim

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/pakistan-warns-unilateral-military-action-171229063851063.html

Iran Recruits Afghan and Pakistani Shiites to Fight in Syria

September 16, 2017

ISLAMABAD — Thousands of Shiite Muslims from Afghanistan and Pakistan are being recruited by Iran to fight with President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, lured by promises of housing, a monthly salary of up to $600 and the possibility of employment in Iran when they return, say counterterrorism officials and analysts.

These fighters, who have received public praise from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, even have their own brigades, but counterterrorism officials in both countries worry about the mayhem they might cause when they return home to countries already wrestling with a major militant problem.

Amir Toumaj, Iran research analyst at the U.S.-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said the number of fighters is fluid but as many as 6,000 Afghans are fighting for Assad, while the number of Pakistanis, who fight under the banner of the Zainabayoun Brigade, is in the hundreds.

Image result for Zainab Ayoub Brigade, photos

In Afghanistan, stepped-up attacks on minority Shiites claimed by the upstart Islamic State group affiliate known as Islamic State in the Khorasan Province could be payback against Afghan Shiites in Syria fighting under the banner of the Fatimayoun Brigade, Toumaj said. Khorasan is an ancient name for an area that included parts of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.

“People were expecting blowback,” said Toumaj. IS “itself has its own strategy to inflame sectarian strife.”

Shiites in Afghanistan are frightened. Worshippers at a recent Friday prayer service said Shiite mosques in the Afghan capital, including the largest, Ibrahim Khalil mosque, were barely a third full. Previously on Fridays — the Islamic holy day — the faithful were so many that the overflow often spilled out on the street outside the mosque.

Mohammed Naim, a Shiite restaurant owner in Kabul issued a plea to Iran: “Please don’t send the poor Afghan Shia refugees to fight in Syria because then Daesh attacks directly on Shias,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

Pakistan has also been targeted by the Islamic State in Khorasan province. IS has claimed several brutal attacks on the country’s Shiite community, sending suicide bombers to shrines they frequent, killing scores of devotees.

In Pakistan, sectarian rivalries routinely erupt in violence. The usual targets are the country’s minority Shiites, making them willing recruits, said Toumaj. The most fertile recruitment ground for Iran has been Parachinar, the regional capital of the Khurram tribal region, that borders Afghanistan, he said. There, Shiites have been targeted by suicide bombings carried out by Sunni militants, who revile Shiites as heretics.

In June, two suicide bombings in rapid succession killed nearly 70 people prompting nationwide demonstrations, with protesters carrying banners shouting: “Stop the genocide of Shiites.”

A Pakistani intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said recruits are also coming from northern Gilgit and Baltistan. Recruiters are often Shiite clerics with ties to Iran, some of whom have studied in seminaries in Iran’s Qom and Mashhad cities, said a second Pakistani official, who also spoke on condition he not be identified because he still operates in the area and exposing his identity would endanger him.

Yet fighters sign up for many reasons.

Some are inspired to go to Syria to protect sites considered holy to Shiite Muslims, like the shrine honoring Sayyida Zainab, the granddaughter of Islam’s Prophet Muhammed. Located in the Syrian capital of Damascus, the shrine was attacked by Syrian rebels in 2013. Others sign up for the monthly stipend and the promise of a house. For those recruited from among the more than 1 million Afghan refugees still living in Iran it’s often the promise of permanent residence in Iran. For Shiites in Pakistan’s Parachinar it is outrage at the relentless attacks by Sunni militants that drives them to sign up for battle in Syria, said Toumaj.

Mir Hussain Naseri, a member of Afghanistan’s Shiite clerics’ council, said Shiites are obligated to protect religious shrines in both Iraq and Syria.

“Afghans are going to Syria to protect the holy places against attacks by Daesh,” he said. “Daesh is the enemy of Shias.”

Image result for Mir Hussain Naseri, photos

In this Friday, Aug. 25, 2017 file photo, men carry a woman’s body after an attack on a Shiite mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan. Thousands of Pakistani and Afghan Shiites have been recruited by Iran to fight in Syria generating fears that their return could aggravate sectarian rivalries, say counterterrorism officials as well as analysts, who track militant movements. AP photo

Ehsan Ghani, chief of Pakistan’s Counterterrorism Authority, told The Associated Press that his organization is sifting through hundreds of documents, including immigration files, to put a figure on the numbers of Pakistanis fighting on both sides of the many Middle East conflicts, including Syria. But it’s a cumbersome process.

“We know people are going from here to fight but we have to know who is going as a pilgrim (to shrines in Syria and Iraq) and who is going to join the fight,” he said.

Pakistan’s many intelligence agencies as well as the provincial governments are involved in the search, said Ghani, explaining that Pakistan wants numbers in order to devise a policy to deal with them when they return home. Until now, Pakistan has denied the presence of the Islamic State group in Pakistan.

Nadir Ali, a senior policy analyst at the U.S.-based RAND Corp., said Afghan and Pakistani recruits also provide Iran with future armies that Tehran can employ to enhance its influence in the region and as protection against perceived enemies.

Image may contain: 3 people

In this Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 file photo, Pakistani Shiite Muslims mourn next to the bodies of their relatives, a victims of bombing that killed scores of people in Quetta, Pakistan. Thousands of Pakistani and Afghan Shiites have been recruited by Iran to fight in Syria generating fears that their return could aggravate sectarian rivalries, say counterterrorism officials as well as analysts, who track militant movements. AP photo

Despite allegations that Iran is aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan, Ali says battle-hardened Shiite fighters are Tehran’s weapon should relations with an Afghan government that includes the radical majority Sunni religious movement deteriorate.

“Once the Syrian civil war dies down Iran is going to have thousands, if not tens of thousands of militia, under its control to use in other conflicts,” he said. “There is a potential of Iran getting more involved in Afghanistan using militia because Iran is going to be really concerned about security on its border and it would make sense to use a proxy force.”

Pakistan too has an uneasy relationship with Iran. On occasion the anti-Iranian Jandullah militant group has launched attacks against Iranian border guards from Baluchistan province. In June, Pakistan shot down an Iranian drone deep inside its territory.

In Pakistan the worry is that returning fighters, including those who had fought on the side of IS, could start another round of sectarian bloodletting, said the intelligence official.

__________

Associated Press writers Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan; Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Pakistan; Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran contributed to this report.

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In Afghan Review, Trump’s Frustration Carries Echoes of Obama Years

August 6, 2017

WASHINGTON — Since taking office, U.S. President Donald Trump has shown an affinity, and perhaps even a deference, to the generals he has surrounded himself with in his Cabinet and at the White House, save one exception: the war in Afghanistan.

More than a dozen interviews with current and former U.S. officials familiar with the discussions reveal a president deeply frustrated with the lack of options to win the 16-year-old war, described internally as “an eroding stalemate.”

The debate carries echoes of the same dilemma Barack Obama faced in 2009. Then, as now, odds are that Trump will ultimately send more troops, current and former officials say.

“It’s the least worst option,” one former U.S. official familiar with the discussions said, speaking on condition of anonymity, while acknowledging that with Trump, a pullout cannot be completely ruled out.

Trump’s defense secretary, retired Marine Corps General Jim Mattis, has had the authority for nearly two months to add thousands more troops to the roughly 8,400 there now (down from a peak of more than 100,000 in 2011). Army General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, requested the troops back in February.

But officials say Mattis won’t use his authority until he has buy-in from Trump for a strategic vision for America’s longest war. Beyond more troops for Afghanistan, the strategy would aim to address militant safe havens across the border in Pakistan.

That too has become a divisive issue, with several members of Trump’s inner circle split on how hard to press Islamabad.

Sources say that the discussions – which included a high-level White House meeting on Thursday – could drag out for the rest of the summer, blowing past a mid-July deadline to present a war strategy to an increasingly impatient Congress.

After Thursday’s meeting, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, people familiar with the deliberations told Reuters that a final decision did not appear imminent.

Pentagon officials have declined to comment on internal deliberations. The White House has also declined to comment ahead of a decision on the strategy.

COMMANDER UNDER SCRUTINY

While U.S.-backed fighters are rolling back Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the same cannot be said of the fight against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that the conditions in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through next year, even with a modest increase in military assistance from America and its allies.

During a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump said Mattis and Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, might want to consider firing Nicholson, who was picked by Obama in 2016 to lead the war effort and has earned the respect of Afghan leaders.

“We aren’t winning,” Trump told them, according to accounts of the conversation.

But current and former officials say the frustration had been mounting for months.

At least as far back as February, one former U.S. official said the internal deliberations about Afghanistan were not aimed at creating a broad set of options for Trump.

Shortly before McMaster was due to present his plan to Trump for approval ahead of the May NATO summit, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to endorse it, saying Trump was not being presented with options, the former official and another current official said.

“The lack of options meant that the only recommendation that was originally to be put forward to the president was essentially the status quo,” the former official said, discounting the troop increase as any serious shift in strategy.

But in the months since, the possibility of a full pull-out has been repeatedly presented and refined along with a true “status-quo” option in which no new troops are sent to Afghanistan, but none are pulled out either.

Still, U.S. defense leaders are not believed to be favoring those options.

David Sedney, a former Pentagon policy advisor under the Obama administration, said failure to prioritize Afghanistan could replicate the mistakes by previous U.S. presidents.

“We’ve been ambivalent about Afghanistan for the last 17 years and when you have an ambivalent policy, it fails,” said Sedney, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank in Washington.

McMaster, Mattis, Tillerson, Dunford, Nicholson and some U.S. intelligence officials argue that refusing to commit more U.S. forces to train, equip and in some cases support the Afghan security forces would eventually result in the Taliban retaking most of the country from the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

Trump’s concerns about Afghanistan are shared by some senior officials close to the president, including chief strategist Steve Bannon, who, officials say, is skeptical about the need for an increase in troops in Afghanistan.

PAKISTAN ALSO DIVIDES TEAM

Divisions have also emerged within Trump’s administration on how much to pressure Pakistan, and how quickly, in order to address militant safe havens blamed for helping prolong Afghanistan’s war.

Nicholson, McMaster and Lisa Curtis, senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council, favor taking a strong hand with Pakistan to deal with Taliban militants using that country as a base from which to plot attacks in Afghanistan, current and former officials say.

On the other side are State Department officials and others at the Pentagon, including Dunford, who take a broader view of Pakistan’s strategic importance and are less convinced that harsh actions will secure more cooperation from Islamabad, they said.

Pakistan fiercely denies allowing any militant safe havens on its territory.

The Trump administration is exploring a new approach toward Pakistan, Reuters has reported. Potential responses under discussion include expanding U.S. drone strikes, redirecting aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, John Walcott, Jonathan Landay; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Mary Milliken)

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Security officials inspect the scene of the blast outside the Great Mosque in Herat, August 1, 2017.

16 killed in double suicide attack in NE Nigeria

June 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A white sheet covers the bodies of some of the victims of the double suicide bombing in Dalori Kofa village in northeast Nigeria

MAIDUGURI (NIGERIA) (AFP) – At least 16 people died in a double suicide bombing near a large camp for people made homeless by years of Boko Haram violence, Nigeria’s emergency services and locals said Monday.It was the biggest in a series of weekend attacks.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the attack took place at about 8:45 pm (1945 GMT) on Sunday close to the Dalori camp in Kofa village, near the Borno state capital Maiduguri.

Regional NEMA spokesman Abdulkadir Ibrahim said a first attack by two female suicide bombers had been thwarted by security personnel who stopped them getting into the camp.

“Two other female suicide bombers also detonated their explosives at the adjoining Dalori Kofa village, where they killed 16 people,” he said in a statement.

Earlier tolls given by local people said at least 12 or 13 people had been killed but Abdulkadir said three of the injured had since died of their wounds.

“The 16 does not include the bombers,” he told AFP.

Dalori is about 10 kilometres (six miles) southeast of Maiduguri and is one of the largest camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in the remote region.

There are nearly 50,000 people in the two Dalori camps, with Dalori 1 housing some 35,000 and Dalori 2, which was targeted in the bombings, sheltering around 10,000.

Boko Haram has previously tried to target the camp: at least 85 people were killed in January last year when insurgents rampaged through communities near Dalori.

– A bloody weekend –

The latest attack is the most deadly in Nigeria since June 8, when 11 people were killed in a rare combined gun and suicide attack in the Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri.

Also at the weekend, Boko Haram attacked Gumsuri village, 20 kilometres from Chibok, killing five people late on Saturday, locals said.

But they were fought off by local vigilantes who engaged them in a gunbattle.

“The vigilantes got the upper hand. They killed 12 attackers and apprehended six others,” said Bitrus Haruna, a vigilante from Chibok, whose account was corroborated by a community leader from the town.

“The Boko Haram gunmen were not lucky. They were confronted by the gallant vigilantes who killed 12 of the attackers and arrested six of them.”

Then on Sunday, Boko Haram jihadists killed three soldiers in an ambush near Wajirko village, 150 kilometres (90 miles) from Maiduguri, a local vigilante said.

Last weekend, gunmen killed eight members of a civilian militia force assisting the military in the Konduga area not far from the Dalori camp.

The spate of bombings underlines the threat still posed by the jihadists, despite official claims they are a spent force.

Since the start of Boko Harm’s uprising in 2009, at least 20,000 people have been killed since and more than 2.6 million made homeless, many of whom are facing severe food shortages or starvation.

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12 Killed in Suicide Bombings in Northeast Nigeria

June 19, 2017

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Authorities in northeastern Nigeria say 12 people are dead after suicide bombing attacks not far from the city of Maiduguri.

Police spokesman Victor Isuku said Monday that the attacks were carried about by five female bombers in Kofa, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Maiduguri.

The first attack killed several people near a mosque, while five others were killed in a house.

Last late year Nigeria declared that the Boko Haram extremist group had been crushed but attacks continue, often with young women strapped with explosives to carry out suicide attacks.

Many of the young women are believed to be among those abducted by the jihadists, who have pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State.

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19 June 2017 – 13:19BY AFP
Camp Dalori is about 10 kilometres southeast of Maiduguri.

Camp Dalori is about 10 kilometres southeast of Maiduguri.
Image: AMINU ABUBAKAR / AFP

At least 16 people were killed in suicide bomb attacks near a camp for those made homeless by Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria, emergency services said on Monday.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the attacks took place at about 8:45 pm on Sunday close to the Dalori camp at Kofa village, near the Borno state capital Maiduguri.

NEMA northeast region spokesman Abdulkadir Ibrahim said two female suicide bombers tried to get into the camp but were thwarted by security personnel.

“Two other female suicide bombers also detonated their explosives at the adjoining Dalori Kofa village, where they killed 16 people,” he added in a statement.

Earlier tolls given by local people said at least 12 or 13 people had been killed but Abdulkadir said three of those injured and taken to hospital had since died.

“The 16 does not include the bombers,” he told AFP.

Dalori is about 10 kilometres (six miles) southeast of Maiduguri and is one of the largest camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in the remote region.

Boko Haram has previously tried to target the camp: at least 85 people were killed in January last year when insurgents rampaged through communities near Dalori.

Residents were shot and their homes burned down while female suicide bombers blew themselves up among the crowds of people fleeing the violence.

The latest attack is the most deadly in Nigeria since June 8, when 11 people were killed in a rare combined gun and suicide attack in the Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri.

Boko Haram has repeatedly targeted the strategic city, particularly its outlying communities, IDP camps and the city’s university.

The bombings and sporadic hit-and-run attacks underline the threat still posed by the jihadists, despite claims from the authorities they are a spent force.

Gunmen killed eight members of a civilian militia force assisting the military on June 11 in the Konduga area, which is on the same road as the Dalori camp.

At least 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict since 2009 and more than 2.6 million made homeless, many of whom are facing severe food shortages or starvation.