Boko Haram has taken over a string of locations in recent weeks in Nigeria’s remote northeast, in what looks like a plan to seize and hold a “Muslim territory” or caliphate, apparently inspired by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, reports Reuters.
Escapees from seized northeast towns, such as Madagali, say the Islamists murder adult males, torch churches, and force Christian women to convert to Islam under pain of death.
Boko Haram’s seizure of northeast towns and territory outside of its Sambisa forest and Mandara Mountains hideouts has alarmed both Nigerians and the country’s western allies. The top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, last week called the group’s recent gains a “sober reality check”.
“Unless swift action is taken, Nigeria could be facing a rapid takeover of a large area of its territory reminiscent of ISIS’s lightning advances in Iraq,” the Nigeria Security Network said in a Sept 2 report. The Network groups Nigerian and international experts working on that country’s security issues.
“They are beginning to operate like a conventional army … They are reported to be using armoured vehicles, including tanks, and heavy weapons,” the Network reported.
Boko Haram has killed thousands since it launched its anti-government insurgency in 2009, mostly in the poor northeast.
Meanwhile, World Watch Monitor reports that Northern Cameroon is more than ever in the sights of Boko Haram, as details of atrocities committed by the radical Islamic sect from neighbouring Nigeria continue to emerge. More