Gunmen damage telecoms masts in Nigeria

07 September 2012 | Kavit Majithia


The Nigerian telecoms market has been rocked by the news that gunmen have damaged mobile phone masts in the country.

The infrastructure, owned by operators including MTN and Airtel, was attacked earlier this week in the northern Nigerian cities of Kano and Maiduguri.

It is thought the disturbances, reportedly stemming from an Islamic group, are part of a low level insurgency against President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.

Reuters reports 10 masts were burnt to the ground in Maiduguri, and local residents said there was no mobile reception in the area. The suspected group, named Boko Haram, has its base in the far north-east of the country.

Reuters said men on motorbikes destroyed MTN and Airtel phone masts in Kano, and Boko Haram was the main suspect.

The group targets attacks largely on the government, and it has killed hundreds this year in the Muslim north of the region. It is reported the group has been concerned they will be traced through mobile phones.

An MTN spokesperson said: “We confirm that like all the other major telcos, some of the MTN’s installations in northern Nigeria have been damaged by unknown persons.”

Airtel was unavailable for comment.