World

Anti-aircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenades now fuel Nigeria's Islamic extremist insurgency

  • In this photo taken with a mobile phone, Tuesday, May. 7, 2013, soldiers  and journalist looks at bodies of prison officials killed by Islamic extremist  during  heavy fighting in Bama, Nigeria. Coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists armed with heavy machine guns killed at least 42 people in northeast Nigeria, authorities said Tuesday, the latest in a string of increasingly bloody attacks threatening peace in Africa's most populous nation. The attack struck multiple locations in the hard-hit town of Bama in Nigeria's Borno state, where shootings and bombings have continued unstopped since an insurgency began there in 2010. Fighters raided a federal prison during their assault as well, freeing 105 inmates in another mass prison break to hit the country, officials said. (AP Photo/Abdukareem Haruna)

    In this photo taken with a mobile phone, Tuesday, May. 7, 2013, soldiers and journalist looks at bodies of prison officials killed by Islamic extremist during heavy fighting in Bama, Nigeria. Coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists armed with heavy machine guns killed at least 42 people in northeast Nigeria, authorities said Tuesday, the latest in a string of increasingly bloody attacks threatening peace in Africa's most populous nation. The attack struck multiple locations in the hard-hit town of Bama in Nigeria's Borno state, where shootings and bombings have continued unstopped since an insurgency began there in 2010. Fighters raided a federal prison during their assault as well, freeing 105 inmates in another mass prison break to hit the country, officials said. (AP Photo/Abdukareem Haruna)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken with a mobile phone, Tuesday, May. 7, 2013,  Bakura Ibrahim, a suspected member of Islamic extremist group arrested by soldiers is tied to a tree in Bama, Nigeria. Coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists armed with heavy machine guns killed at least 42 people in northeast Nigeria, authorities said Tuesday, the latest in a string of increasingly bloody attacks threatening peace in Africa's most populous nation. The attack struck multiple locations in the hard-hit town of Bama in Nigeria's Borno state, where shootings and bombings have continued unstopped since an insurgency began there in 2010. Fighters raided a federal prison during their assault as well, freeing 105 inmates in another mass prison break to hit the country, officials said. (AP Photo/Abdukareem Haruna)

    In this photo taken with a mobile phone, Tuesday, May. 7, 2013, Bakura Ibrahim, a suspected member of Islamic extremist group arrested by soldiers is tied to a tree in Bama, Nigeria. Coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists armed with heavy machine guns killed at least 42 people in northeast Nigeria, authorities said Tuesday, the latest in a string of increasingly bloody attacks threatening peace in Africa's most populous nation. The attack struck multiple locations in the hard-hit town of Bama in Nigeria's Borno state, where shootings and bombings have continued unstopped since an insurgency began there in 2010. Fighters raided a federal prison during their assault as well, freeing 105 inmates in another mass prison break to hit the country, officials said. (AP Photo/Abdukareem Haruna)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken with a mobile phone, Tuesday, May. 7, 2013, soldiers looks at bodies of suspected Islamic extremist killed during  heavy fighting in Bama, Nigeria. Coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists armed with heavy machine guns killed at least 42 people in northeast Nigeria, authorities said Tuesday, the latest in a string of increasingly bloody attacks threatening peace in Africa's most populous nation. The attack struck multiple locations in the hard-hit town of Bama in Nigeria's Borno state, where shootings and bombings have continued unstopped since an insurgency began there in 2010. Fighters raided a federal prison during their assault as well, freeing 105 inmates in another mass prison break to hit the country, officials said. (AP Photo/Abdukareem Haruna)

    In this photo taken with a mobile phone, Tuesday, May. 7, 2013, soldiers looks at bodies of suspected Islamic extremist killed during heavy fighting in Bama, Nigeria. Coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists armed with heavy machine guns killed at least 42 people in northeast Nigeria, authorities said Tuesday, the latest in a string of increasingly bloody attacks threatening peace in Africa's most populous nation. The attack struck multiple locations in the hard-hit town of Bama in Nigeria's Borno state, where shootings and bombings have continued unstopped since an insurgency began there in 2010. Fighters raided a federal prison during their assault as well, freeing 105 inmates in another mass prison break to hit the country, officials said. (AP Photo/Abdukareem Haruna)  (The Associated Press)

At first, the Islamic extremists in Nigeria's dusty northeast rode on the backs of motorcycles, firing on government officials and other targets with worn Kalashnikov assault rifles hidden beneath their flowing robes. Now, they come prepared for war.

Islamic fighters invaded a town in northeast Nigeria on Tuesday and used anti-aircraft guns, mounted on the back of trucks, to destroy nearly every landmark of the nation's federal government. In other assaults the insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades.

The militarization of Islamic radicals, and the willingness of extremists to use their new weapons, highlight the increasing instability in Nigeria's north and the ever-growing dangers facing the nation's weak central government.