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Boko Haram's deadly tactics in Nigeria appear to be getting more vicious




Simran Khosla


UPDATE: 01/13/15 5:00 PM ET

Signing off

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UPDATE: 01/13/15 4:58 PM ET

Bomb kills one, wounds 18 in northeastern Nigeria's Gombe

Reuters — A bombing at a military checkpoint next to a market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Gombe killed at least one person and wounded 18 others on Tuesday, a security source and a local aid worker said.

Gombe is just outside the main area of operations of Boko Haram, a violent jihadist group trying to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, and has been attacked several times in the last few months.

"The 18 people injured have been evacuated to the hospital ... while the suspected person who planted the bomb was caught and burned to death by an angry mob," the aid worker, who declined to be named, said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

UPDATE: 01/13/15 4:53 PM ET

Flak for hypocrisy

UPDATE: 01/13/15 4:48 PM ET

Doctors Without Borders helping survivors

Doctors Without Borders is helping survivors who fled Boko Haram's latest onslaught in the city of Maiduguri.

"We will provide support in the areas of child malnutrition, antenatal consultations, and deliveries for the many pregnant women in the camp, as well as providing basic health care," Isabelle Mouniaman-Nara, head of MSF’s programs in Nigeria, said in a statement. "At the same time, we will closely monitor the situation in the camp and the numbers of displaced people, and adapt our activities according to their needs."

UPDATE: 01/13/15 2:30 PM ET

Since #BringBackOurGirls, Boko Haram has only gotten stronger

Last November, GlobalPost's Erin Conway-Smith looked into why Boko Haram was gaining in strength:

Five years into the insurgency by Boko Haram, little headway has been made in halting the attacks that have killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands more in Nigeria's northeast.

Despite international attention after the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in April, similar attacks have continued apace.

There was a brief glimmer of hope last month, when the Nigerian military announced it had reached a ceasefire following talks with Boko Haram. A government official said the Chibok schoolgirls would soon be released. A day later, the ceasefire had crumbled, as the attacks continued.

Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, dismissed reports of a truce, and said the Chibok girls had converted to Islam and been married off to fighters. If anything, Boko Haram appears to have become emboldened in recent weeks. Monday's school bombing followed the release of a new video from the group, in which Shekau again rejects claims of a ceasefire and boasts of having established an Islamic caliphate.

In another attack on Potiskum, less than a week ago, a suicide bomber targeted a Shia Muslim religious procession, killing 30 people. Since 2009, Boko Haram has seized dozens of villages and towns, and attacked schools, churches and mosques.

The group aims to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous country, and has a majority Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

Read on here

UPDATE: 01/13/15 1:52 PM ET

To learn more about Boko Haram

Check out this in-depth backgrounder published by the Council on Foreign Relations.

UPDATE: 01/13/15 12:10 PM ET

Why Boko Haram's bloody insurgency doesn't make headlines

"Why the slaughter of 17 innocents in France receives more attention than the death of roughly the same number of Nigerians is the kind of question that can result in accusations of indifference, racism, and media bias," The Atlantic's Matt Schiavenza writes. "But the contrast between the attacks in Paris and the suicide bombing in Maiduguri actually reveals something far more sinister: the ravages of state failure."

Full piece here

UPDATE: 01/13/15 10:58 AM ET

Cameroon says 143 Boko Haram fighters killed in clashes

Reuters — At least 143 Boko Haram fighters were killed in an attack on a military camp in Cameroonon Monday, a minister said, adding that it was the heaviest loss sustained by the Nigerian Islamist group in the country.

"The terrorists ... lost 143 lives and important warfare equipment made up of assault rifles of various brands, heavy weapons and bullets of all calibers," Minister of Communications Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement.

"On the Cameroon side, we lost one life, the Corporal-Chef Bela Onana, as well as four wounded."

UPDATE: 01/13/15 10:42 AM ET

A child as a suicide bomber

The New York Times reports on Boko Haram's disturbing new tactic:

"The terrorist group has increasingly employed women as suicide bombers, even as it has stepped up its abductions of girls across northeast Nigeria, including the kidnapping of more than 200 in the town of Chibok last April ... But the use of a child to kill — witnesses, police officials, a top hospital official in Maiduguri and local vigilantes all agreed that the bomber was very young — may be unprecedented in the insurgency."

UPDATE: 01/13/15 10:10 AM ET

The staggering death tolls of Boko Haram assaults

The New Yorker's John Cassidy is right: The deadly unrest in Nigeria is a "human disaster."

UPDATE: 01/13/15 9:52 AM ET

Thousands flee Nigeria after Boko Haram attack

Reuters — Some 20,000 Nigerians have fled to Chad, Niger and Cameroon in the past two weeks after their towns and villages were attacked by Islamist sect Boko Haram, according to theUnited Nations and government figures.

The influx of refugees has put further strain on some of the poorest nations in Africa, which are already struggling to feed and protect their own people in a region that is recovering from drought. Human rights group Amnesty International says Boko Haram may have killed some 2,000 people around Jan. 3 in Baga in northern Nigeria.

The Sunni Muslim sect, which is trying to carve out an Islamic state in the largely Muslim north of Nigeria, has killed thousands in a five-year rebellion which is seen as the biggest security threat to Africa's top oil producer and is a headache for President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of an election on Feb. 14.

In the past 10 days, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates 6,000 Nigerian refugees have fled east into Cameroon and a further 1,500 have gone north to seek shelter in Niger.

Chad estimates 13,000 people have entered its western Lake Chad region. Some have drowned in their attempt to flee, others have been left stranded on lake islands awaiting rescue boats.

UPDATE: 01/13/15 9:30 AM ET

Boko Haram's deadly attack in Baga: Survivors' stories

GlobalPost's Erin Conway-Smith reports from Johannesburg, South Africa:     

Boko Haram had attacked Baga before. But this time, insurgents armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers beat back the military and burned the town to the ground.

Nigeria’s military has called last week’s attack on Baga, a fishing community on the shores of Lake Chad, the deadliest yet by Boko Haram in their five-year war to establish an Islamic caliphate. Death toll estimates from the most recent assault range from hundreds to as many as 2,000 people killed, and thousands more displaced.

The Nigerian government, gearing up for a general election next month, has made no official comment on the Baga attacks.

The extreme brutality is believed to be a reprisal for the local civilian vigilante group’s support of the military in fighting Boko Haram. The area around Baga, in northeastern Nigeria, is said to still be strewn with bodies.

Survivors arriving in the state capital Maiduguri are now telling their stories of the massacre.

Full story here

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