Kristin Palitza works as Africa correspondent for dpa, the German Press Agency. Her articles have also appeared in Forbes Africa, Monocle, the Guardian and TIME.

She lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa, but regularly goes on assignment throughout the continent.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Kristin Palitza arbeitet als Afrika-Korrespondentin für dpa, die Deutsche Presse Agentur. Ihre Artikel sind außerdem in Forbes Africa, Monocle, Guardian und TIME Magazin erschienen.

Sie lebt und arbeitet im südafrikanischen Kapstadt und reist regelmäßig auf dem Kontinent. 


+27 72 287 2202   kpalitza@gmail.com

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Nov012013

A deadly game

dpa | 18 June 2014

The warning signs were there. Security for all public football viewing sites had been beefed up, but Boko Haram attacked once again killing many Nigerian fans, report Akanbi Thani and Kristin Palitza -

Kano, Nigeria (dpa) - Boko Haram had repeatedly warned that it would make World Cup public viewing centres targets. The group has struck on Tuesday night, as Brazil played Mexico, killing 14 football fans in the town of Damaturu, in northern Yobe State.

Even those who have been living under the threat of such attacks for years were shaken.

“I will rather stay at home, although I will miss the thrill of sharing (the experience) with like-minded people,” Ahmed Bamali, a resident of Kano, the capital of northern Kano State, said after the bombing.

Another Kano resident, Edwin Olofu, said he decided to buy a large-screen television for the World Cup to stay safe.

“My friends and I have decided to host each other in turns at our houses each time a match is played,” said Olofu.

Launching attacks during a global event such as the World Cup also gives the group an opportunity to gain international attention. In some regions of Africa’s most-populous nation, the fear of attacks on football fans has led the authorities to ban public viewings entirely.

In Abuja, where Boko Haram killed more than 100 people in several attacks this year alone, all viewing centres were ordered to close.

In central Plateau State and northern Adamawa State, the authorities issued directives advising football fans to stay at home. In places where games continue to be shown on public screens, venue owners were asked to implement extra security measures and collaborate closely with police and the military.

“Operators of the centres should carry out a thorough stop-and-search of viewers before allowing them into the centres,” said national police spokesman Frank Mba.

Nandom Musa, the owner of a viewing centre in Plateau State capital Jos, which is regularly targeted by Boko Haram, said he had employed guards and bought metal detectors.

The government, meanwhile, beefed up security in main cities by increasing military presence and holding information campaigns.

“Police are on top of the situation. We have deployed extra security personnel to hotspots in the city. The operators have been given directives on how to secure the venues,” said police spokesman Magaji Majiya in Kano.

Many owners of viewing centres fear a drastic decrease in patrons after Tuesday’s attack.

“I invested a lot on this centre. We have new big screen televisions, new chairs. I even painted the place. With what happened in Damaturu, we may have a drop in customers,” Edwin Uchenna, a viewing centre owner in the town of Sabongari in Kano State, said.

The coach of the Nigerian national team, Stephen Keshi, fears that the threat of Boko Haram could undermine the country’s World Cup performance.

“The tension in Nigeria is really going to affect my players as some of them have family members and loved ones out there. Hearing of any misfortune back home will distract them,” Keshi said.

Towns across Nigeria’s northern and central regions are potentially at risk. In the last two months alone, Boko Haram killed dozens of football fans in several attacks.

In early May, more than 40 people were killed in the town of Mubi in Adamawa State, in a bombing by Boko Haram at the end of a local football match.

Later that month, three people were killed in a blast outside a viewing centre in Jos during the European Champions League final between the Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Atletico, while in Borno State capital Maiduguri, scores were killed in a similar attack.

In April, Boko Haram stormed a packed viewing centre in the town of Potiskum, Yobe State, during the European Champions League quarter finals, killing two people.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful,” has killed more than 1,500 people in northern Nigeria since January.

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