الإثنين , يونيو 8 2020

Nigeria curtails World Cup viewings

Nigeria fans cheer ahead of the international friendly soccer match between Nigeria and Scotland at Craven Cottage in London (May 2014)Nigerians are known to be passionate supporters of their team

Authorities in Nigeria’s north-eastern state of Adamawa have ordered all venues planning to screen live coverage of the football World Cup to close.

They say they have received intelligence of planned bomb attacks during the competition, which opens in Brazil on Thursday.

Adamawa is one of the states badly affected by Islamist violence.

Open-air viewing centres – where people pay to watch live soccer – are popular throughout Nigeria.

“Our action is not to stop Nigerians… watching the World Cup. It is to protect their lives,” Brig-Gen Nicholas Rogers was quoted by the AFP agency as saying on Wednesday in Yola, the capital of Adamawa.

The state has often been targeted by Boko Haram Islamist militants.

Map of Nigeria

A picture taken from a video distributed to Nigerian journalists in the country's north and obtained by AFP on March 5, 2013 reportedly shows Abubakar Shekau (C), the suspected leader of Nigerian Islamist  group Boko HaramA state of emergency was declared in the north-east a year ago but Boko Haram still remain strong

On 1 June at least 14 people were killed in a bomb attack on a bar that was screening a televised football match in Adamawa. No group claimed responsibility for the blast, but Boko Haram were the main suspects.

The state is one of three in Nigeria that have been placed under emergency rule because of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Nigerian troops patrolling the streets of the remote north-eastern town of Baga, Borno State (April 2014)Nigerian troops are struggling to contain the insurgency in the north-east

Many people were also killed in two explosions blamed on Boko Haram while watching football in a video hall in the north-eastern town of Maiduguri in March.

Correspondents say many fans have no means other than the viewing centres to watch the Nigerian team – or Super Eagles – in action. The team is tipped by pundits to be one of Africa’s star performers at the World Cup.

Boko Haram has come under the international spotlight after it recently abducted more than 200 girls from a school in northern Nigeria.

Efforts to locate the girls have so far drawn a blank.

On Thursday the British government is due to host a ministerial meeting in London about northern Nigeria’s security, following on from a summit in Paris last month in which the best ways to subdue the Boko Haram militant group were discussed.

The Nigerian team’s first World Cup match in Brazil is against Iran on 16 June.

They then play Bosnia-Hercegovina and finish their Group F campaign against Argentina as they attempt to reach the last 16, as they did in 1994 and 1998.

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Who are Boko Haram?

A screen-grab taken on 12 May 2014, from a video released by Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has been designated a terrorist by the US government

  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

Who are Boko Haram?

Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau

Why Nigeria has not defeated Boko Haram

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