Sunday, May 11, 2014

Nigerian Islamist Group Boko Haram Abducts Hundreds of Schoolgirls, Continues Attacks On Northern Villages

At least 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in the northeastern state of Borno were abducted last month by the islamic terrorist group Boko Haram- which literally translates to 'Western Education is Sinful'. Both the mass abduction and a subsequent video in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau promised to sell the captive girls off into slavery released earlier this month prompted international outrage, but Nigerian officials are no closer to finding the missing girls than they were several weeks ago.

According to at least one of the kidnapped girls who was able to escape, a nighttime attack on the nearby town of Chibok preceded the mass abduction. Boko Haram gunmen dressed in military fatigues then showed up at the girls dormitory and said they were part of a Nigerian Army detachment who had been sent to evacuate them. However, after herding the girls into waiting trucks, the convoy then started moving along back roads through dense forests instead of the main highway into town. Some of the girls sensed something was amiss and were able to escape the slow-moving convoy in the dead of night and make their way to nearby villages.

Days after Shekau's video was released, Boko Haram attacked another village along the border of Cameroon. Nigerian officials say that as many as 300 people could've been killed in the attack on the village of Gamboru Ngala, but the exact toll was difficult to confirm due to the remote location of the village and the fact that Boko Haram had torched a number of shops and building.

Despite the international outcry, the mass abduction of schoolgirls [reportedly ranging in age from 11-16- NANESB!] in Borno was not the first time Boko Haram targeted schools. In 2013, Boko Haram carried out multiple raids on boarding schools in the northern part of the country, stabbing, shooting and burning alive students in the dormitories. The islamist group has also bombed churches and government installations while carrying out brazen jailbreaks of captured members.

The group has been mostly active in the northeastern states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa and has also targeted Nigerian officials elsewhere. Officially the group is a little over a decade old, but until recently their attacks were limited to hit and run attacks on Nigerian policemen and troops. After the 2009 death of Shekau's predecessor- Mohammed Yusuf- in police custody, Boko Haram intensified their attacks against both civilian and government targets. The fall of Mummar Ghdaffi's regime in Libya after the 2011 civil wae also left open the possibility that the group was arming themselves with heavy weaponry taken from the regime's armories and spirited across several unsecure borders with the aid of allied groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

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