TIME Nigeria

Boko Haram Kills 97 People Praying in Mosques in Nigeria

Boko Haram often defiles mosques where it believes clerics espouse too moderate a form of Islam

(MAIDUGURI, Nigeria) — A government official and a self-defense fighter say Boko Haram extremists have gunned down nearly 100 Muslims praying in mosques in northeastern Nigeria.

They say the attack Wednesday night on the town of Kukawa came as people were praying ahead of breaking their fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. They say 97 people, mainly men, were killed.

A senior government official from the area said the Islamic extremists targeted several mosques in the town. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give information to reporters.

Vigilante group spokesman Abbas Gava says its self-defense fighters in Kukawa said some militants broke into people’s homes, killing women and children.

Boko Haram often defiles mosques where it believes clerics espouse too moderate a form of Islam.

TIME Nigeria

2 Girl Suicide Bombers Kill 30 People in Northeast Nigeria

Nigeria Boko Haram
Jossy Ola—AP People gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack at a market in Maiduguri, Nigeria, on June 22, 2015.

The bombing occurred in the city of Maiduguri, the birthplace of the Boko Haram

(BAUCHI, Nigeria) — Two girls blew themselves up on Monday near a crowded mosque in northeast Nigeria’s biggest city, killing about 30 people, witnesses said.

It is the fourth suicide bombing this month in Maiduguri, which is the birthplace of the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group.

Fishmonger Idi Idrisa said one teenager exploded as she approached the mosque crowded with people from the nearby Baga Road fish market, performing afternoon prayers during the holy month of Ramadan.

The second teen appeared to run away and blew up further away, killing only herself, he said.

Civilian defense fighter Sama Ila Abu said he counted at least 30 corpses as he helped collect the dead.

Both men said said there were many injured.

Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds and hundreds of girls and women and the numbers of female suicide bombers has raised fears that it is using the captives in its campaign.

A military bomb disposal expert has told the AP that most bombs carried by girls and women have remote detonation devices, meaning the carrier cannot control the explosion.

Boko Haram has stepped up attacks since Nigeria’s new President Muhammadu Buhari announced the military command center is moving from the capital Abuja to Maiduguri in Borno State.

The attacks come as Nigeria and its neighbors are preparing to strengthen a multinational army that this year drove Boko Haram out of towns and villages where it had set up a so-called Islamic caliphate.

But bombings and hit-and-run attacks have continued, along with cross-border raids.

On Thursday, a group of the extremists attacked two towns in neighboring Niger, killing at least 40 people, the government said.

In its first attack on Chad, suicide bombers a week ago attacked two buildings including the national police academy in N’Djamena, killing at least 33 people.

TIME Nigeria

Bombs Found at Boko Haram Camp Explode, Killing 63 People in Nigeria

Residents had gathered around to examine the bag when it exploded

(BAUCHI, Nigeria)—A sack of home-made bombs discovered at an abandoned Boko Haram camp exploded, killing 63 people in northeast Nigeria, civilian self-defense fighters said Wednesday.

Haruna Bukar, a witness to the blast, said the local militia was patrolling the area when they discovered the camp and found the bag of metal objects, which they carried to the nearby town of Monguno.

As residents gathered around to examine the bag, it exploded, said Bukar.

Scores of people have been killed this month in suicide and other bombings carried out by Nigeria’s homegrown extremists using these kinds of improvised explosive devices.

Boko Haram took control of a large swath of northeast Nigeria until a multinational force this year forced them out of towns and villages. Nigeria’s military says the extremists are now confined to the Sambisa Forest.

Boko Haram denies this and has stepped up bombings and hit-and-run attacks since President Muhammadu Buhari announced at his May 29 inauguration that the command control center for the war against the insurgents is moving to Maiduguri, the biggest city in northeast Nigeria and the birthplace of Boko Haram.

The 6-year-old Islamic uprising is blamed for the deaths of some 13,000 people. More than 1.5 million have been driven from their homes, some across borders.

TIME Soccer

Wambach’s Goal Gives U.S. a 1-0 Win Over Nigeria

Julie Johnston, Courtney Dike
Darryl Dyck—AP Julie Johnston, left, and Nigeria's Courtney Dike vie for the ball during the first half of a FIFA Women's World Cup game on June 16, 2015

The U.S. hasn't won a World Cup since 1999

(VANCOUVER) — Abby Wambach scored late in the first half and the U.S. women’s national team went on to beat Nigeria 1-0 on Tuesday night for a first-place finish in its group at the Women’s World Cup.

It was Wambach’s 14th World Cup goal, pulling her even with Birgit Prinz for second on the all-time list behind Brazil’s Marta, who has 15.

Wambach came off the bench for the United States in the team’s last match against Sweden. Tuesday, she started up top with Alex Morgan, who was making her first World Cup start in Canada after working her way back from a bone bruise in her left knee.

The United States, ranked second in the world behind Germany, has two World Cup titles, but hasn’t won since 1999.

Four years ago in Germany, the U.S. advanced to the final but fell to Japan on penalty kicks.

The win sent the United States through as the leader of its group for the sixth time in seven Women’s World Cups. The team heads to Edmonton, Alberta, for the first match of the knockout stage. The opponent has not been determined.

Nigeria, which has won seven of nine African championships, has been to every World Cup since it started for the women in 1991. The Super Falcons were eliminated after the loss to the United States after playing to a 3-all draw with Sweden in the opener and falling 2-0 to Australia.

The U.S. opened Group D with a 3-1 victory over No. 10 Australia, before playing to a 0-0 draw with No. 5 Sweden.

Morgan hadn’t started a match since April. The speedy 25-year-old played 12 minutes as a sub in the draw with Sweden.

Wambach also came in as a sub in the match against Sweden last Friday. It was the first time she had played off the bench at a World Cup since her first in 2003.

Wambach, who didn’t score in the first two U.S. group stage matches, had never gone without a goal in the opening round in four World Cup appearances.

Julie Johnston had the best chance for the United States early, but her strike in the eighth minute was ruled offside. Minutes later, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo dove to stop Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala’s attempt.

Nigerian goalkeeper Precious Dede had to punch Megan Rapinoe’s long 25-foot blast in the 17th minute. Johnston battled to catch Oshoala on a fast break, sliding to deflect the ball as Solo charged.

Wambach finally put the United States ahead just before the end of the half when she rushed in on a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe and volleyed the ball into the goal at the far post.

Dede stopped a shot from an onrushing Morgan to open the second half.

A scary moment came when Wambach and Josephine Chukwunoye appeared to bump heads. Wambach got up quickly, but Chukwunoye — who got a yellow card on the play — was helped off but returned a few moments later.

Sydney Leroux, who grew up in the Vancouver area, replaced Morgan in the 65th minute. Leroux, who has an American father, left Canada as a teenager to pursue her goal of playing for the United States.

Nigeria, which was physical all game, was hurt when Sarah Nnodim was sent off with her second yellow of the night for a tackle on Leroux in the 69th minute. That put Nigeria at 10 players for the rest of the match.

Morgan, who has 51 goals in 84 international appearances, had not started in a match since April 11, the season opener for the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League. Her last start for the United States came in a 4-0 victory over New Zealand in St. Louis, Missouri.

She wore pink tape on her knee during the match.

TIME Nigeria

How 4 Girls Escaped Boko Haram to End Up in Oregon

Nigerians holding candles during a vigil for the one year anniversary of the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian school girls in Chibok, Abuja, Nigeria on April 14, 2015.
EPA Nigerians holding candles during a vigil for the one year anniversary of the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian school girls in Chibok, Abuja, Nigeria on April 14, 2015.

They're slowly adjusting to life in America

Correction appended

Four girls who narrowly avoided abduction by Boko Haram’s massive abduction of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls are now thriving at an Oregon Christian school, Cosmopolitan reports.

Three girls who evaded the kidnappers and one who happened to be away from school at the time of the abduction have been relocated to Canyonville Christian Academy, an international boarding school in Canyonville, OR.

The four girls were classmates of the 219 girls still missing after they were kidnapped from their Chibok school last April by Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The group has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since the beginning of 2014, Amnesty International reports, and many of them are being sold into slavery or sexually abused.

The girls spoke exclusively to Cosmopolitan about their capture, escape and experiences in America. Mercy escaped by jumped off a moving truck. Deborah refused to talk about her experience. Grace made a run for it after she asked her captors to go to the bathroom– she made it to a nearby house, where strangers lied to protect her from the militants who came looking for her. Sarah was away from school the night of the abduction.

Now in the United States, the girls are learning about Facebook, staplers, and Christmas trees — but counselors say they’re not quite ready for bathing suits.

The abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls became a global movement last year at least partly due to the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign, whose co-founder Obiageli Ezekwesili was recognized in TIME’s list of the 100 most influential people earlier this year. The former Nigeria education minister gave an impassioned speech at the TIME 100 Gala in April on the hunt for the kidnapped girls:

Read the full Cosmopolitan story here.

Correction: This article originally misidentified Obiageli Ezekwesili’s former role in the Nigerian government. She was minister for education, and before that minister for minerals.

TIME Turkey

Here Are 3 Good Things That Happened in the World This Week

TURKEY-VOTE-RESULTS kurdish
Bulent Kilic—AFP/Getty Images Young supporters of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) celebrate in the streets the results of the legislative election, in Diyarbakir on June 7, 2015.

Turkey, Nigeria and the E.U. all saw positive stories in a week when most of the news was depressing

Follow the news these days, and it’s hard to be an optimist. Ukraine’s ceasefire is a fiction. ISIS is capturing new ground and drawing new followers. The U.S. and China seem at odds in the South China Sea. The Greeks sometimes seem determined to stumble their way out of Europe. The list goes on. But with the real exception of Ukraine, these risks are exaggerated, and there are positive stories out there that deserve more attention. Here are three:

1. Turkey

Start with last weekend’s election results in Turkey. Not so long ago, this country was considered a major emerging market success story. That’s mainly because then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had helped unlock much more of the country’s growth potential by empowering development and entrepreneurship in the country’s Anatolian heartland. Under his leadership, per capita income tripled in a decade.

Unfortunately, Erdogan, now president, has drawn comparisons with Russia’s Putin by shifting focus from economic gain to a bid for lasting political dominance. To corner his enemies and expand his power, he has compromised the independence of Turkey’s courts, police forces, and central bank. His foreign policy has become a mix of nationalist paranoia and anti-Western resentment. He has also polarized his country.

But Turkish voters reminded us on June 7 that Turkey is not Russia, and Erdogan can’t become Putin. His Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish initials AKP, earned another victory, but not the supermajority Erdogan needed to rewrite Turkey’s constitution to give himself more power. In fact, for the first time in 13 years, the AKP didn’t even win a simple majority and will now have to form a coalition government.

Make no mistake: Turkey will be a mess for some time to come. Expected intensified political infighting over the next couple of years, but the big news is that there are still checks on Erdogan’s ambitions, even within his own party. It’s a step back for Erdogan–and a step forward for his country.

2. Nigeria

After years of corruption and stagnation, Africa’s largest economy needed new political energy. March’s presidential election provided exactly that. After 16 years of one-party rule following the country’s shift from military control to democracy in 1999, opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari won a clear victory and a strong mandate. The incumbent accepted defeat, and power changed hands peacefully. That’s crucial in a country where stability depends on a delicate political balance between Christians in the south, Muslims in the north and various ethnic groups and provincial factions.

With majorities for his APC party in parliament and governorships, Buhari brings energy for reform. A capable economic policy team is now settling into place. A badly needed revitalization of the oil sector is underway. Government spending restraint will earn greater investor confidence in Nigeria’s enormous potential. Buhari, a Muslim and former military commander, will more aggressively target Boko Haram, Muslim militants based in the country’s northeast, than his predecessor did.

3. Europe

Even in Europe, despite intense media focus on the risks of Grexit and Brexit—Greek and British exists from the E.U., respectively—there is cause for optimism. Last week, the Pew Research Center released a report detailing evidence of a revival of public faith in the broader European project. Pew surveyed 6,028 people in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK, countries that make up 70% of the EU population and provide 74% of its GDP. Though many of those questioned still say their economies are in rotten shape and won’t quickly return to pre-crisis levels, they do sense improvement—and credit the European Union for it. Despite the rise of Euro-skeptic parties like Spain’s Podemos, Britain’s UK Independence Party and Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland, public support for the EU within these member states has actually risen since 2013. In Britain, support for exit from the EU trails support for continued membership by 55 to 36 percent. Interestingly, majorities in Spain (70%), Britain (66%), Italy (58%), and Germany (50%) say the rise of “non-traditional” parties is a “good thing,” perhaps because they provide a useful check on the power of European institutions.

There’s no doubt that Ukraine’s conflict will deepen, tensions with Russia will rise further, Greece has a long way to go and the Middle East will burn hotter for longer. But add reform momentum in India, Italy, and Mexico, and there are still plenty of good news stories beyond the headlines.

Bremmer is a foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large at TIME. He is the president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy, and a Global Research Professor at New York University. His most recent book is Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World

TIME Nigeria

New Nigerian President Buhari Pledges Renewed Fight Against Boko Haram

Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou  and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari observe a horse wearing a ceremonial outfit in Niamey
Tagaza Djibo—Reuters Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou (far right) and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (right) observe a horse wearing a ceremonial outfit in Niamey, Niger, June 3, 2015

The Jihadist group pledged allegiance to ISIS earlier this year

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took a hard line Wednesday against Islamist militant group Boko Haram during his first visit trip overseas since winning elections in March.

“I renew my commitment to track Boko Haram into a corner, to destroy it. Five years of the presence of this evil sect is enough,” the 72-year-old told reporters in Niamey, Niger, accompanied by his opposite number, President Mahamadou Issoufou. Buhari said he also planned to visit neighboring Chad on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Niger has recently stepped up efforts to help its neighbor combat Boko Haram in the northeast part of the country, but Buhari indicated that arrangement would end soon. “I think in the next four weeks we will be able to replace them with Nigerian forces so they can return to their country,” he said. He also credited Niger for accepting refugees — as many as 150,000 — who have fled the fighting in Nigeria to Niger.

Nigeria and neighbors Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin will also launch a new multinational effort to fight the insurgency around Lake Chad using a force of 8,700 troops, Issoufou announced at a separate event Tuesday. The neighboring nations will provide additional weapons to Nigeria and will help rebuild infrastructure damaged by recent fighting.

Founded in 2002, Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” launched a vicious insurgency in 2009 but only garnered global attention after the abduction of more than 250 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in April 2014.

[Reuters]

TIME Nigeria

Nigeria Hails the Freeing of 200 Women and Children but Regrets Continued Captivity of Chibok Girls

Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler (3rdL) attends a gathering "Bring Back Our Girls" near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 14, 2015 to mark one year since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.
Gonzalo Fuentes—Reuters Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler attends a gathering "Bring Back Our Girls" near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 14, 2015 to mark one year since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.

When a Nigerian military spokesman claimed on Tuesday to have rescued some 200 women and girls held captive by members of the Boko Haram, hopes soared that they might be the schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago from a dormitory that put the name of their small town, Chibok, in the global spotlight.

The kidnapping, which took place on April 14, 2014, spurred an international twitter campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, and saw a dedicated band of Nigerian mothers, students, activists and civil society members holding daily vigils in the capital, Abuja, and weekly protests elsewhere in the country.

More than 2,000 women and children from Northeastern Nigeria have been kidnapped by Boko Haram in the past 17 months, but the plight of the schoolgirls, who were kidnapped in one raid and seemed to have been targeted because they were seeking education, garnered the world’s sympathy. The founder of the Bring Back our Girls movement, former World Bank Vice President for Africa and former Nigerian Education Minister Obiageli Ezekwesili was relentless in her campaign to make sure the Chibok girls were not forgotten, and brought in international celebrities from Madonna to U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousufzai to promote the cause.

So fervent is the desire to see the girls back and alive, the disappointment that the 200 rescued women were not from Chibok was profound. “Alas it certainly seems they are not Chibok Girls and that is profoundly heart breaking,” Ezekwesili wrote TIME in an email. “Yet, that these girls and women who were also captives of those savages (for God knows how long) can now breathe the air of freedom is certainly victory.”

When the girls were first kidnapped, it took nearly two weeks for the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to respond, and even longer to launch a military effort to take on Boko Haram and track down the students. When the Nigerian military attacked the group, they were often defeated. In many cases soldiers simply abandoned their posts, largely due to inadequate weapons and fears that they would not receive additional air support if they did decide to engage. The failure of a hollowed-out military that had once been the pride of Nigeria and one of the most respected forces in Africa prompted national soul-searching, and may have lead, in part, to the electoral defeat of Jonathan in elections last month. While military spokesmen have claimed credit for the rescue and a spate of military defeats that forced Boko Haram into taking refuge in the dense Sambisa forest, the gains could not have been achieved without the support of an international coalition made up of militaries from neighbors Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

The incoming president, Muhammadu Buhari, has pledged to rebuild the army, but it will take years to recover from a decade of neglect and endemic corruption.

Despite the hopes and efforts of activists like Ezekwesili, the likelihood of finding all the Chibok girls is slim. In several videos posted to YouTube, Boko Haram founder Abubakar Shekau boasted that the girls, many of whom were Christian, had either converted to Islam and been married off, or refused to convert and sold as slaves. According to Amnesty International, Boko Haram fighters, fleeing the advancing Nigerian army, have in some instances slaughtered their own wives rather than let them be captured by “infidels,” a fate that could have befallen some of the Chibok girls. Amnesty also suggests that others might have perished due to the rigors of captivity, and, if the fate of several other Boko Haram escapees is a guide, they might have been used as sex slaves or forced to fight.

Boko Haram has also used young women in suicide attacks, though it is not clear that any of the bombers came from Chibok. Nonetheless, the efforts to rescue the Chibok girls, and all other Boko Haram abductees must continue, says Ezekwesili. The rescue of the 200 girls on Tuesday makes it clear. “We can seize on their rescue to add more pressure on our Government to SPARE NO EFFORT in finding our #ChibokGirls and all other abductees.”

As for the Chibok girls, it is yet another reminder that the world is unlikely to forget them, and the fact that neither the Nigerian military, nor an international Twitter campaign, has been able to find them.

TIME Nigeria

200 Girls Rescued From Boko Haram Camps Are Not the Chibok Schoolgirls

Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler (3rdL) attends a gathering "Bring Back Our Girls" near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 14, 2015 to mark one year since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.
Gonzalo Fuentes—Reuters Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler attends a gathering "Bring Back Our Girls" near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 14, 2015 to mark one year since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.

Many had hoped the rescued girls were the same ones kidnapped a year ago from a Chibok school

—The Nigerian army said that the hundreds of women and girls rescued from camps run by Islamist group Boko Haram Tuesday are not the same ones who were kidnapped from a Chibok school last April.

After Nigerian forces rescued 200 girls and 93 women from the Boko-Haram occupied Sambisa forest, many hoped missing Chibok schoolgirls whose abduction inspired the global campaign to ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ would be among them. The campaign’s founder, Obiageli Ezekwesili, said it was “heartbreaking” that the Chibok girls were not found, but added that any rescue is good news. “That these girls and women who were also captives of those savages (for God knows how long) can now breathe the air of freedom is certainly victory,” she told TIME. “We can seize on their rescue to add more pressure on our Government to spare no effort in finding our #ChibokGirls and all other abductees.”

Shortly after the rescue, an army spokesman announced that the rescued girls were other captives of Boko Haram, not the Chibok schoolgirls. Approximately 2,000 women and girls have been kidnapped by Boko Haram since the beginning of the year, according to Amnesty International.

According to testimony from escaped captives, girls and women abducted by Boko Haram are often raped, forced into marriage, or sold into sexual slavery. Sometimes they’re forced to become soldiers and attack their own villages. Some have despaired of finding the Chibok girls together, since Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau promised to “sell them on the market” shortly after they were abducted last year.

Ezekwesili gave a speech at last week’s TIME 100 gala urging the world not to forget the plight of the Chibok girls:

TIME indonesia

Indonesian Media Says 8 Foreign Drug Smugglers Executed

PHILIPPINES-INDONESIA-CRIME-DRUGS-EXECUTION
Ted Aljibe—AFP/Getty Images Activists hold candles and placards with portraits of Mary Jane Veloso in front of the Indonesian embassy in Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2015.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected clemency appeals

Eight drug convicts, all foreigners, were reportedly executed by firing squad in Indonesia on Wednesday, after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected pleas from foreign governments and thousands of his own citizens to halt the executions.

The inmates, four Nigerians, two Australians, one Brazilian and one Indonesian, were killed on the Nusakambangan prison island early Wednesday, the Jakarta Post reports. But another condemned prisoner, Filipina domestic helper Mary Jane Veloso, was spared at least temporarily after new evidence came to light confirming her claim she was tricked into smuggling drugs.

The executed inmates included Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Australians who were part of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group. Their former lawyer, Mohammad Irfan, has alleged to the Sydney Morning Herald that judges asked for more than $77,000 in bribes to give the pair a lighter sentence, and he also accuses Jakarta of political interference — once again putting a spotlight on Indonesia’s judicial system, which is largely seen as corrupt.

A Frenchman, Serge Atlaoui, was earlier given a temporary reprieve pending a legal appeal, which was granted after French President François Hollande warned: “If he is executed, there will be consequences with France and Europe.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (and former East Timorese President) José Ramos-Horta, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, British tycoon and adventurer Richard Branson and iconic hard-rock guitarist Tony Iommi were among the chorus of foreign leaders, fellow celebrities, local and overseas activists and ordinary people asking that the convicts’ lives be spared.

Families of the condemned came to Nusakambangan to spend the last hours with their loved ones, as police and military stepped up security there and in Cilacap. Chan, who was ordained as minister in the decade he spent at a Bali prison, asked to go to church with his family during his last days, said his brother Michael. As his last wish, Sukumaran, who began painting while incarcerated in Bali, has asked “to paint as long and as much as possible,” his brother Chinthu said. One of his latest self-portraits shown to journalists depicts a harrowing image of the artist shot through the heart.

Read next: Inside Indonesia’s Islamic Boarding School for Transgender People

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