RESURGENCE OF ATTACKS ON TELECOMMUNICATION SITES
Recently, attacks by the militant groups have taken a new dimension with increased attacks on telecommunication sites.
Askira Uba town in Southern Borno came under siege today by ISWAP Jundul KILAFAH, loyal to Abou Aseyeya, resulting in the massive destruction of several telecommunication sites.
This makes it the umpteenth time a telco site would be targeted by insurgents. In a similar incident earlier in the day, Boko Haram fighters attacked an area called Buniyadi, Yobe State. Telecommunication masts and healthy centres were the focal target point, though generators and drugs were also carted away.
The terror group must have thought that the increased communication opportunities of the people is helping the military, leading to losses on their part.
That may be the main motivation, as the inability to call will make it difficult for locals to call for help or announce their presence.
Though the presence of telecommunication sites helps both sides to communicate, however, the advantage is not tilted in favour of the people or military.
Hence, the insurgents’ action may mean that they have alternate means of communicating within the area as they destroy and loot the communication towers in the area.
An intelligence report by The Swiss Organization Jihad Analytics alerts that insurgents attack telecommunication sites and other infrastructure in areas with disputed borders and weak governance may gradually become the order of the day in a declaration of “economic war”. Disputed borders would enhance easy accessibility to target regions, while weak governance grants them unabated opportunities to thrive.
Recall that in recent months, Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina States had shut down communications sites, citing rising cases of insecurity.
According to the letter signed by the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta., “The pervading security situation in Zamfara State has necessitated an immediate shut down of all telecom services in the state and site(s) in neighbouring states that could provide telecommunications service in Zamfara State from September 3, 2021”.
In a similar vein, the Sokoto State government shut down telecommunications networks in 14 of the 23 local government areas of the state to check banditry.
In an interview with Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service, Governor Aminu Tambuwal stated that the state secured approval from the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isah Pantami, before enforcing the ban 14 council areas are the most vulnerable to bandit attacks.
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The development from Sokoto came on the heels of the neighbouring Zamfara, where all parts of the state are affected, and Katsina State, where 13 local government areas were also affected.
In addition to the suspension of telecommunications networks, a ban on weekly markets and the sale of petrol in jerry cans, among other drastic measures to check the activities of bandits, were enforced.
The above activities used in checkmating the activities of insurgents may therefore have aligned strategically in compliance to their target aim of “economic war”.
Furthermore, during the period of communication shut down, the media had reported that several victims abducted during the period were released in their numbers, as there was no means of communication, possibly for ransom.
Therefore, the resurgence of attacks and carting away of telecommunications masts and related gadgets may not be unconnected with moves by the terrorist groups to equip themselves in preparation against envisaged communication shutdown. This may endanger telco workers as future soft targets to operate these masts if communication networks shutdown should be adopted.
In line with trend analysis, Intel experts anticipate increased attacks by the insurgent groups on other telco facilities and government infrastructure and advice for proactive measures to forestall future incidents.