Boko Haram consolidates power in northeastern Nigeria
Just days after Boko Haram raised its flag over Damboa, in northeastern Nigeria's Borno state, suspected gunmen from the terrorist group raided the town on July 22, killing five villagers.
According to a local resident, the attack was precipitated by the town's removal of Boko Haram's flags. In the incident, five gunmen targeted the locations in Damboa where the flags had been flying. The gunmen shot and killed five people before scurrying back into the forest on motorbikes and Toyota pickups.
Boko Haram has effectively laid siege to the town since early July, when the group attacked Damboa's police station and army base and sent Nigerian security forces running. Weeks later on July 18, the group began another assault, setting homes and businesses on fire and killing over 100 community members.
Boko Haram also continues to target infrastructure. The group destroyed a key bridge that linked northeastern Nigeria with Cameroon on the night of July 22. The Ngala bridge connected Borno state capital Maiduguri to the northern towns of Ngala and Gamboru as well as northern Cameroon. In the incident, the terrorists placed improvised explosive devices under the bridge and detonated them, destroying the bridge.
Today, an improvised device hidden in a refrigerator went off at a motor park in the Sabon Gari area of Kano, north central Nigeria. One person was killed and eight injured. Kano has been the target of several previous bombings, including several in the Sabon Gari area.
In an effort to combat Boko Haram, the governments of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger pledged yesterday to develop a 2,800-member regional force, with each country contributing 700 soldiers to the cause.
In addition to the efforts at regional cooperation, Nigeria's Inspector General of Police signed an agreement, on behalf of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), with the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States to partner on counterterrorism activities to bolster the NPF. The project aims to improve and modernize the NPF "for more effective and efficient policing."
Formally identified as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US Department of State in November 2013, Boko Haram has increased the frequency and violence of its terror campaign in recent months. The group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in June 2012, has released several video statements claiming responsibility for the attacks. He has also taunted the West's hashtag campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, that emerged after his group abducted over 250 schoolgirls in April, calling for President Goodluck Jonathan to "bring back our arrested warriors."
Thus far, neither Nigeria nor any other players has been able to substantially slow Boko Haram's advance.