The U.S. Department of State has ordered the families of diplomats in Nigeria to leave to country.
Citing the heightened risk of terrorist attacks in Abuja, the State Department changed the travel advisory notices to alert Americans not to travel to the city as of Oct. 27. The department authorized the evacuation of non-emergency US government employees and their families two days earlier.
“U.S. citizens should consider departing Abuja using available commercial options,” the embassy said in its alert. “U.S. citizens who wish to depart but are unable to secure commercial options to do so can contact the U.S. Consulate in Lagos.”
American citizens who elect to travel to Nigeria have been warned to carry their passports and visas, to keep a low profile, and to stay alert in locations frequented by Westerners.
Similar alerts were issued by British and Australian governments.
Islamic terrorists affiliated with Boko Haram have been active in Nigeria since 2011. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a prison raid in July that lead to the escape of an estimated 440 inmates, increasing tension throughout the country.
The State Department reports that ISIS-West Africa concentrates its attack on security and government forces while Boko Haram does “not appear to discriminate between civilians and government officials when conducting attacks”
The terrorist groups’ attacks have caused significant property damage as well as injuries, abductions, and 20,000 to 30,000 death.
“[The] terrorist actions by BH and ISIS-WA have contributed to the internal displacement of about two million people within the states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, and the external displacement of more than 240,000 Nigerian refugees to neighboring countries, principally Cameroon, Chad, and Niger,” per the State Department.
As part of its efforts to combat terrorism, the Nigerian government launched Operation Safe Corridor in 2015 to identify, de-radicalize, and reintegrate supporters of terrorism who were deemed to be “low threat.”
“From the outset, OSC has been conceived as a counter-terrorism strategy, with the aim of reducing the rank and file of the insurgents and was initially primarily developed by the security services within Nigeria,” noted the Center for Democracy & Development. “Its focus is those who surrendered during the military onslaught, those who were conscripted to the Boko Haram insurgency against their will and those who felt disenchanted with the activities of the leadership of the group.”
The efforts have been able to stop religious extremism and terrorism.
Residents of Abuja’s Federal Capital Territory have been warned to remain on high alert since Oct. 23. Police have been instructed to “beef up security in their respective jurisdictions, especially in the FCT” and to keep all emergency numbers active 24/7, per Channel News Asia.
Despite the warning, the Nigerian government has disclosed minimal details about the threat facing its citizens.