Boko Haram Kills Dozens In Attacks

Seemingly operating with impunity, Boko Haram extremists have killed more than 30 people in brazen attacks on two more villages near Chibok school, the place where they kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls last month. The latest attacks were disclosed on the same day when two massive car bombs killed at least 118 people in the city of Jos, with Boko Haram seen as the likeliest suspects.

Twenty people were reported killed by Boko Haram attackers in the village of Alagarno and at least 11 were killed in the village of Shawa. Both are near the site of the kidnapping.

The first attack was in Shawa, less than 30 kilometres from Chibok, near the Sambisa Forest where many Boko Haram members are believed to be hiding.

“Some of my close relatives were killed,” said Pogu Bitrus, national chairman of the Kibaku Area Development Association, a community group in the area.

“Some people from neighbouring villages came to their assistance, but before they could arrive, Boko Haram had done their attack,” he said in an interview in Abuja.

The predominantly Christian village is so remote that cellphones function poorly, but reports were relayed to Mr. Bitrus from residents in the area. In the Jos explosions, at least 118 were killed and dozens wounded in two bomb blasts that caused buildings to collapse in a crowded market area of the Nigerian city of Jos, authorities say. The massive car bombs on Tuesday, just a few minutes apart, were the latest in a deadly wave of bombings across Nigeria over the past few weeks, raising fears that the extremist group Boko Haram has become powerful enough to expand its terrorist operations far outside its traditional strongholds and into new regions of the country.

The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad (Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad), known by its Hausa name Boko Haram (pronounced [bōːkòː hàrâm]; figuratively meaning “Western education is sin”), is a terrorist organization based in the northeast of Nigeria, north Cameroon and Niger. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the organization seeks to establish a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia, putting a stop to what it deems Westernization. A study of the International Center for Counter-Terrorism analyzes the drivers of public support to five reasons: emergence and emancipation for northern Nigeria, political interests and elite exploitation, poverty and under-development, the religion as opium for the masses, and transnational drivers like foreign fighters and fire-arms. The group is known for attacking Christians, Muslims and government targets, as well as for bombing churches, mosques, schools and police stations.The group also kidnaps western tourists and has assassinated members of the Islamic establishment who have criticized the group.Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths between 2002 and 2013.

The group exerts influence in the northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa, Kaduna, Bauchi, Yobe and Kano. In this region, a state of emergency has been declared. The group does not have a clear structure or evident chain of command and has been called “diffuse” with a “cell-like structure” facilitating factions and splits.It is reportedly divided into three factionswith a splinter group known as Ansaru. The group’s main leader is Abubakar Shekau. Its weapons expert, second-in-command and arms manufacturer was Momodu Bama.

Whether it has links to jihadist groups outside Nigeria is disputed. According to one US military commander, Boko Haram is probably linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), but others have found no evidence of international material support, and attacks by the group on international targets have so far been limited. On November 13, 2013 the United States government designated the group a terrorist organization.

Many of the group’s senior radicals were reportedly partially inspired by the late Islamic preacher known as Maitatsine. Others believe that the group is motivated by inter-ethnic disputes as much as by religion, and that its founder Yusuf believed that a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” was being waged by Plateau State governor Jonah Jang against the Hausa and Fulani people. Amnesty International has accused the Nigerian government of human rights abuses after 950 suspected Boko Haram militants died in detention facilities run by Nigeria’s military Joint Task Force in the first half of 2013. The conflicts have left around 90,000 people displaced. Human Rights Watch states that Boko Haram uses child soldiers, including 12-year-olds.

In 1995, the group was said to be operating under the name Shabaab, Muslim Youth Organization with Mallam Lawal as the leader. When Lawal left to continue his education, Mohammed Yusuf took over leadership of the group. Yusuf’s leadership allegedly opened the group to political influence and popularity. The group was originally established at Ibn Taymiyyah mosque, which was named after Boko Haram’s spiritual head.

Yusuf officially founded the group in 2002 in the city of Maiduguri with the aim of establishing a Shari’a government in Borno State under then-Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. He established a religious complex that included a mosque and a school where many poor families from across Nigeria and from neighbouring countries enrolled their children.

The center had ulterior political goals and soon it was also working as a recruiting ground for future jihadis to fight the state. The group includes members who come from neighbouring Chad and Niger and speak only Arabic.

In 2004 the complex was relocated to Yusuf’s home state of Yobe in the village Kanamma near the Niger border.

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