For many years, Boko Haram has terrorised Nigeria. The violent Boko Haram attacks have left deep scars, both visible and invisible. Check out our article on the history of Boko Haram in Nigeria to understand the severity of the group’s actions. We will tell you everything you need to know about Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Basic facts about Boko Haram, Nigeria
- The group became active in 2002 under the Boko Haram leadership of Mohammed Yusuf. He is now deceased.
- It is active mostly in the north-eastern parts of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and the north of Cameroon.
- At first it was believed to be a part of al-Quaeda, but in 2015, it moved on to become part of the ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
- The Boko Haram origin of the name stems from the Hausa phrase that literally translates as ‘Western education is forbidden’.
- The name the group uses to describe themselves, Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād literally translates as the Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad.
Boko Haram history
As we have said before, the group has been active since 2002. However, if we are talking about the history of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, then their reign of terror began in July 2009. Boko Haram started an uprising in Bauchi state, which soon spread to Kano, Borno and Yobe. The conflict resulted in hundreds of deaths on the side of both Boko Haram (including the Boko Haram leader) and the joint military forces.
Even though their leader had died and their operational mosque was destroyed, Boko Haram members returned a year later with a video that proclaimed Abubakar Shekau, Mohammed Yusuf’s right hand, as the new leader of the group.
And that was when things got worse:
From September 2010, Boko Haram began frequently organising violent attacks in Nigeria. During the inauguration of Goodluck Jonathan in May 2011, the group detonated several IEDs near the military barracks in Bauchi, which resulted in deaths of at least 10 people.
In August 2011, the UN compound and the police station suffered from Boko Haram militant attacks with numerous injuries and casualties. By November, the attacks had spread all over the states of Borno and Yobe.
In January 2012, Boko Haram targeted multiple places in Kano, which resulted in over 200 deaths. In August, some media sources claimed that Boko Haram had started peace talks with the Nigerian government, but the group itself denied those claims.
In April 2013, the joint forces from Nigeria, Chad and Niger fought Boko Haram forces in Baga, Borno State, which resulted in over 200 casualties, including civilians. In June, several churches suffered from Boko Haram attacks, adding another 50 people to the death toll.
But things did not end there:
In September 2013, several members of Boko Haram posed as the Nigerian military and killed over 100 people at a fake checkpoint in Borno. In November, the U.S. added Boko Haram of Nigeria to the list of terrorist organisations. It took them four years to realise the severity of the situation.
In 2014, even more people from Borno State suffered from Boko Haram attacks. However, the most shocking thing happened in April, when Boko Haram kidnapped 276 young girls that were on their way to school in Chibok, Borno. This has sparked an outrage even outside of Nigeria and attracted international attention to the problem.
Despite the attention, the Nigerian government has not managed to come to an agreement with Boko Haram to get the hostages back. On the contrary, Boko Haram continued their attacks and kidnappings, adding to the amount of casualties. All the attempts of ceasefire had failed.
Things only got worse from there:
In 2015, Boko Haram attacks got even more violent. They started to use young girls in suicide bombings and beheaded those who had crossed them. In March 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS, and ISIS accepted the pledge.
In the meantime, Nigerian troops were able to find several Boko Haram bases and release some of the hostages kept there. However, the kidnapped girls were nowhere to be found. In addition, the military forces came across mass graves of Boko Haram victims.
Boko Haram attacks happened with alarming periodicity. All the way until the end of 2015, numerous villages suffered from Boko Haram. However, the allied forces were also able to get some ground back. In September 2015, the Nigerian military managed to rescue almost 250 captives and arrest some of the Boko Haram Members.
In August 2016, ISIS appointed a new head of Boko Haram, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who was meant to replace Abubakar Shekau. However, in December 2016, he was arrested, and Shekau resumed his reign. Nevertheless, the group split, which led to the weakening of its positions.
But what about the kidnapped girls?
As for the Chibok girls, some of them managed to escape earlier on. Others were not that lucky. In April 2016, Boko Haram posted a video with some of the kidnapped schoolgirls to prove that they were alive. In October, Boko Haram used the girls as the means of negotiation to exchange them for the imprisoned Boko Haram members.
In May 2016, two of the kidnapped girls were found wandering around the Sambisa Forest. In October 2016, Boko Haram released 21 girls in exchange for some of their captured comrades. In May 2017, 82 more girls were rescued. Despite the loud campaigns and international attention, many girls remain in captivity. Some were reported dead, while the fate of the others is unknown.
It is 2017, and despite splitting and partly falling apart, Boko Haram continues to terrorise Nigeria. Every month, sometimes even more often, there is news of another bombing or attack from Boko Haram, the most recent being in August. It seems that nothing will ever stop this ever-present threat.
We pray that one day Nigeria will be able to finally live in peace, and that such violent groups like Boko Haram will never be able to disrupt the lives of civilians ever again.
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