The United States of America has warned that the deadly Boko Haram insurgent group is planning to carry out attacks during Nigeria’s forthcoming general election.
The US embassy in Nigeria issued the security alert via its website on Friday, saying the terrorist group plans to attack security and infrastructure, as well as markets, hotels, and malls. It reads; “There is an increase in ISIS propaganda videos specifically directed to Nigeria and the ongoing civil unrest in Borno state and the Northeast”.
“ISIS West Africa (ISWA) and Boko Haram have both stated they plan to disrupt the upcoming 2019 presidential elections by conducting attacks on Nigerian Security and infrastructure, as well as places of gathering such as markets, hotels, and malls. While we have no specific threat information to the U.S. Embassy or within Nigeria during the election season, U.S. citizens in Nigeria should remember to follow personal security precautions on a regular basis.”
The embassy urged its citizens to “carry proper identification, including a US passport with a current Nigerian visa, if needed” and to “exercise caution when walking or driving at night”.
It also advised US citizens avoid crowds and demonstrations, keep a low profile and to “stay alert in public places, including schools, hospitals, government facilities, places of worship, tourist locations, and transportation hubs”.
This security alert comes a week after Somali militants stormed a luxury hotel compound in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 21 people.
Just like the warming issued in Nigeria, Kenyan Intelligence services were warned that al-Shabaab was planning terrorist attacks on high-profile targets in the east African country around Christmas and the new year.
Officials and other sources told the Guardian UK, the warnings was passed on several times in recent months, adding that they had been frustrated not to see a greater response from Kenyan authorities.
Al-Shabaab, which has said its mujahideen were responsible for the assault, has launched a series of terrorist operations in Kenya in recent years. In 2013, the al-Qaida affiliate took over a luxury mall in Nairobi, killing 67 people.
The news of the warnings embarrassed authorities in Kenya, which is seen as a key local counter-terrorist player by the US, UK and other western powers.
One Kenyan intelligence official said information passed on by security partners about planned attacks lacked detail but that the country had been on high alert since November. Another security source told Associated Press the extremists had confused security officials by changing target locations.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to reporters.
Al-Shabaab has waged a decade-long insurgency to impose its rigorous version of Islamic law on Somalia and, though it has been forced out of major cities, controls much of the anarchic failed state’s southern and central rural areas.
In October 2017, an al-Shabaab truck bomb killed more than 500 people in the capital, Mogadishu. The group often attacks restaurants and hotels, using tactics similar to those employed in Nairobi.
Meanwhile, security experts in Nigeria have warned authorities to take the imminent threat of an attack seriously, as this may have a negative effect on the forthcoming elections.
The presidential and national assembly elections will take place February 16 while the governorship and state assemblies polls will be held March 2.
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