Boko Haram Was Bloodier, Bolder In 2014: Over 9,000 Killed and Nearly 1.5 Million Nigerians Displaced

Nigeria

The year saw major abductions and the capture of many towns and areas

With an estimated 9,000 killed and nearly 1.5 million displaced, 2014 is considered the bloodiest year of Boko Haram’s five-year insurgency.

Underscoring the severity of militant attacks this year, Nigeria Security Network, an NGO specialized in tracking casualties, said over 940 people had been killed in insurgent attacks in November alone.

According to the group, May was the bloodiest month, with an estimated death toll of over 4,000 people.

At least 17 people were reportedly killed Monday when an explosive device at a popular bus park exploded in Nigeria’s northeastern Gombe State.

“We counted at least 17 people before security and emergency responders cordoned off Dukku Park, where the blast occurred this morning,” Ismaila Baba, a civil servant who narrowly escaped the blast, told The Anadolu Agency by phone.

He said a few people had also been injured.

A police officer confirmed that “the incident happened at Dukku Park, which connects many places.”

Gombe State in recent months has been largely immune to the Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the country’s northeast, with militants only occasionally staging deadly attacks on selected towns in the state.

Boko Haram started as a religious group in Maiduguri, provincial capital of the northeastern Borno State, in late 2003 by one Mohammed Yusuf, a local cleric.

It was initially referred to by two names, either Jama’atu Ahlu Sunnah li-da’wati wal-jihad or the Yusufiyah Movement.

Within a few years, the group had grown in size and outreach as it extended its activities – mostly preaching and pursuing small-scale economic ventures – to other northern states.

At the peak of its missionary activities, hordes of people would travel from different parts of the north to Maiduguri to listen to Yusuf’s sermons.

On July 27, 2009, group loyalists attacked a police station following a crackdown on the group members for alleged breach of law and order.

The attack left over 300 people dead.

The killing of Yusuf himself three days later while in police custody marked the beginning of the group’s embrace of violence.

Analysts like to point out, however, that unprovoked attacks by the group began only after Abubakar Shekau – until then a little known second-in-command to the slain cleric – assumed leadership of the group.

Since then, the group has carried out numerous attacks on communities, particularly in the three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, with occasional attacks in federal capital Abuja, northwestern Kano city and other northern states.

But 2014 has been the bloodiest year of the insurgency yet, with increasing attacks, higher casualty figures, a deluge of displaced persons and the capture of towns and villages.

“Almost every day in 2014 was marred by deadly attack by Boko Haram, unlike previous years,” Alhaji Yusuf Hassan, a local chief who witnessed the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgency in Maiduguri in 2009.

“The insurgents started abducting teenagers and conscripting young men as foot soldiers this year,” Hassan said. “We didn’t have all these terrible things back in 2009.”

According to tallies by AA correspondents, at least 7,000 people were killed in Boko Haram attacks between January and June alone – a figure that far exceeds total casualties for 2013 and is higher than all previous years.

The first Boko Haram attack of 2014 occurred in Maiduguri on January 14 when a car laden with explosives rammed into a crowded area, killing at least 43 people.

Five days later, insurgents struck a remote community in Alagarno in southern Borno State, killing 18.

Militants killed over 85 people in various mosques in Konduga, some 35km from Maiduguri, on January 20; and over 130 worshippers were killed in a church at Waga Chakawa, a community in neighboring Adamawa State, on January 30.

Over 1,000 people were killed between February and March of this year, while the military claimed to have killed more than 600 Boko Haram militants in an assault on the group’s notorious “Sambisa” hideout on March 9.

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SOURCE: World Bulletin

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