The Nigerian military is warning residents in the rural northeast of the nation to beware of unexploded cluster bombs left in shrubbery by ISIS affiliate Boko Haram. Experts contend that it is likely Boko Haram members acquired these bombs by stealing them from the Nigerian army.
On their Facebook and Twitter accounts, Nigerian military officials distributed photos of the cluster bombs and warned that they may still be undetonated, as Boko Haram is not known to have the airpower necessary to fly the bombs and drop them on targets. They note especially that cluster bombs are to be identified as distinct from more common explosives, as they “are bombs that house submunitions, that is, smaller explosives contained in individual cases.” The bombs were found in Adamawa, a northeastern state neighboring Borno, the birthplace of the terrorist group.
— DEFENCE HQ NIGERIA (@DefenceInfoNG) October 8, 2015
Nigeria’s This Day reports that the bombs appear to be “French-made BLG-66 Belouga, normally launched from aircraft.” The military suggested the bombs “are used against large areas containing many targets such as columns of vehicles, marketplaces, places of worship or large troop concentrations.”
While the report surfaced last week, the Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday that experts are warning these weapons could have come from Nigerian military caches. Experts from the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) campaign group told the AFP that “as to where BH would have gotten them, it seems possible that they could have come from Nigerian military stocks,” as Nigeria may still keep some of the weapons. The use of cluster bombs is banned by the UN Convention on Cluster Munitions, which Nigeria has not ratified.
The possibility that Boko Haram possesses cluster munitions indicates they may be better equipped than the Nigerian military has suggested in previous notices. The Nigerian military has previously said that the nature of Boko Haram attacks in recent months shows a shift to horseback shooting attacks and haphazard suicide bombs from more organized attacks, something Nigerian officials claim shows a “desperation” on the part of the terror group in its final days.
Nonetheless, the attacks have not ceased. On Wednesday, three suicide bombs exploded almost simultaneously in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, a week after a group of terrorists raided a military camp for more munitions.
President Buhari reiterated on Wednesday his commitment to eradicating Boko Haram entirely by the end of December, fulfilling an ultimatum he issued earlier this year. “Structured attacks by the insurgents have reduced and by the end of the year, we should see the final routing of Boko Haram as an organized fighting force, ” he said.