Taarifa Rwanda

Boko Haram 10 Years Of Terror

10 Years ago, Boko Haram started its bloody reign of terror with suicide bombings, mass kidnappings and attacks on civilians.

Residents of northeastern Nigeria say life has been set back by decades.

While Nigerian officials have repeatedly claimed victory over Boko Haram, weary residents say there is no end in sight to the attacks that have created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with more than 7 million people still dependent on food aid.

It all started at the end of July 2009, when Mohammed Yusuf, founder of the Boko Haram armed group, was killed in police custody in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

His successor, Abubakar Shekau, vowed to exact revenge on the Nigerian government and a merciless campaign was launched.

In the ensuing Boko Haram killing spree, nearly 30,000 people were killed and more than two million displaced, according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker.

Hundreds of young women were abducted by the group to become brides to their fighters and in some cases suicide bombers.

But it is widely believed that the number of boys and men kidnapped by Boko Haram, to become fighters is much higher.

A state of emergency was declared in 2013 by then-President Goodluck Jonathan in the northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

The Nigerian military then lunched counterinsurgency operations, forcing Boko Haram fighters to move into Sambisa, a vast forest reserve 60km southeast of Maiduguri that has since become synonymous with the group.

By 2016, a split had formed in the group, which had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group a year earlier.

While one faction remained under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau, Yusuf’s trusted lieutenant, another faction known as the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) formed under Abu Musab al-Barnawi, one of Yusuf’s sons.

The fight against Boko Haram has been beset by many drawbacks, including delays to military funding and reports of extrajudicial killings by the army, which has led to the US government refusing to sell weapons to Nigeria.

A coordinated response among neighboring countries also facing the rebellion has been less than effective.

In spite of all this drawbacks, there is still hope, the town of Gwoza, which the group declared as the seat of its caliphate in 2014, has been recaptured by Nigerian troops and is gradually returning to life, as are other towns in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

A Civilian Joint Task Force has stepped in to complement efforts by the understaffed Nigerian army, using rudimentary firearms and machetes to protect their civilian neighbors.

Markets have started to re-open and, after three years of playing its home games in other parts of Nigeria, the El-Kanemi Warriors football team has come home to play in Maiduguri.

Great gains have been made against the group, but Boko Haram continues to evolve and analysts say the war is far from over.

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