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UK Special Forces Operations: Nigeria

Britain’s Special Forces have been deployed operationally in at least 19 countries in the past decade, new analysis reveals, raising questions over the degree of transparency and democratic consent these shadowy units operate under. This section outlines the extent of UKSF’s operations in Nigeria.

2012

March: Failed hostage rescue of Brit and Italian. BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said he understood the attack was most likely to have been the work of a splinter cell within Boko Haram, with possible links to al-Qaeda. He said: “I am told British troops were first in. They shot one of the kidnappers but by the time they reached the hostages it was too late.” (BBCTelegraph)

2014

May: British special forces have joined a growing international effort to locate and rescue hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist militants in Nigeria.

SAS liaison officers, based in the capital Abuja, have switched their focus to evaluating Britain’s capacity to help the rescue, which has been dogged by claims of delays and incompetence.

The SAS liaison officers were in the country before the kidnappings but are understood to have switched their priority to assessing options open to Britain to help.

One former SAS commander said that the small team, numbering two or three men, could be expanded as required, though he doubted that Britain would take the lead in any rescue attempt. (Times)