Sunday, November 6, 2011

US Embassy Warns of Luxury Hotel Attacks by Islamic Radicals in Nigeria

The US Embassy warned Sunday (November 6) after a weekend of sporadic violence, that luxury hotels frequented by foreigners and Nigeria's elite may be bombed by the radical Islamic group, Boko Haram, as the death toll from attacks in the country's northeast rose to more than 100.

The specific warning includes possible targets in the capital of Abuja, such as the Hilton, Nicon Luxury and Sheraton hotels. With popular restaurants and bars nearby, the hotels in particular bring diplomats, oil executives and wealthy Nigerians (who benefit greatly from the oil-rich country) to a central gathering point. In announcing the threat, the American Embassy stated that its staff has been instructed to avoid these potential targets.

COMMENT: Boko Haram has been particularly active since August, when the group detonated a suicide bomb at the UN's massive headquarters complex in Abuja. The federal police headquarters was also attacked in June. The warning came as a Nigerian Red Cross official said that more than 100 people were killed in a series of attacks Friday (November 4) in the northeast.

Boko Haram's name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the local Hausa language. It rejects Western ideals like Nigeria's US-styled democracy. Followers believe that democracy has destroyed the country with corrupt politicians. An Associated Press report reveals that Boko Haram has killed at least 361 people so far this year alone.

For those that must stay at the identified hotels in the US Embassy warning, the following is suggested: (1) Book internal rooms only that do not face outward; (2) Avoid booking rooms near or overlooking the lobby; (3) Avoid gathering in hotel lobbies as much as possible; (4) Avoid conference rooms that are configured near the exterior of hotel buildings; (5) Avoid sitting near windowed areas while working in guest rooms; and (6) Conduct meetings away from hotels as much as possible.

Ideally, residents and travelers who may be targeted by Boko Haram should optimally consider staying with local contacts in relatively secure homes and even staying in local hotels reserved in the names of local sponsors.

It should also be noted that while the US Embassy warning does not specifically identify Lagos, the same precautions should be taken there, keeping in mind that some sources that provide threat information often conceal true targets.

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