I planned weeks ago to write a story on Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram in order to help keep the #BringBackOurGirls campaign on people’s minds, considering the 200+ teen girls that were kidnapped from the village of Chibok by Boko Haram last summer still have not been found. Unfortunately, the extremist group has placed itself back in the headlines recently with what’s been described as its “worst attack ever,” and I’m compelled to write.
While some local Nigerian officials claim 2,000 people were killed, others say that number could be in the dozens or hundreds. Accurate details are hard to come by, but here is some of what we do know about Boko Haram and its latest attack.
- “On Saturday, January 3, Boko Haram fighters in pickup trucks drove up to a military outpost in Baga. The Nigerian troops immediately began fleeing.” – Vox.com
- The Nigerian military has a history of not helping the situation between locals and Boko Haram, and in fact, they’ve made it worse by inspiring recruits to join Boko Haram as a result of the military’s tactics that have alienated the local population. – TIME
- “The militants have been waging an insurgency to establish an Islamic state in the country’s northeast for five years.” – Business Insider
- That said, motive for this specific attack may likely be the impending presidential election in Nigeria scheduled to take place on Feb. 14. That’s because Boko Haram condemns democracy. – Vox.com
- Amnesty International has released sobering “before and after” satellite images of Baga and a second town, both seemingly wiped out following Boko Haram’s days-long attack.
- Now, a week after the horrific events in and around Baga, Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan (who is up for re-election in next month’s election) visited the troubled northeast region. – The Guardian
So with Boko Haram continuing to strengthen its hold on large portions of Nigeria, will we ever see the kidnapped Chibok girls again? I certainly hope so, though as this TIME article explains, sadly many more girls (and boys) may be abducted before the Chibok girls are reunited with their families. TIME speculates that by now the girls have been forcibly married off, used as camp hands, or might even been responsible for a recent rise in female suicide bombers.
It’s important not to give up on them, though, and not to think that the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign was just a fad. As this author explains, the popular hashtag was successful in raising awareness about the girls, and it’s important the world to continue to do so. “It’s time to remind a distracted world that Boko Haram must be defeated,” he wrote last week. “Social media won’t return the girls, but the world’s attention can help.” Go here to follow the #BringBackOurGirls campaign on Twitter.
BONUS READ: This is an interesting read about the media’s coverage of the Charlie Hebdo attacks versus the lack of/sluggish coverage of the Boko Haram massacre in Baga. The author explains why he believes there’s a “clear double standard when talking about Western vs. non-Western and Muslim vs. non-Muslim victims of terrorism.”
Cover photo credit: Russ Allison Loar, Flickr