Boko Haram terrorists are widely believed to be behind the killing 44 people in a series of bombings early Monday morning in the north-eastern Jos region of Nigeria. The attacks follow a week of escalated bloodshed in which more than 200 people were killed.
An official with the Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency reported that 23 people died in a suicide bombing, while a simultaneous shootout and grenade attack killed 21 more. A witness stated that he saw “two or three vehicles coming from different directions and we started hearing gunshots.” Others described a suicide bomber running into a crowded restaurant and immediately detonating his vest. Although Boko Haram has not officially claimed responsibility, the assault contained many of its trademarks, such as bombing heavily populated civilian areas.
Troops from Chad head to border city of Gambaru last February. (CNN)
The Islamist group also orchestrated several suicide bombings and gun attacks in villages located throughout the Borno state over the past week, killing hundreds. President Muhammadu Buhari described the latest round of violence, which includes a militant assault at a church and an attack on Muslim worshipers after Friday prayers, as “heinous atrocity.”
As of January, Boko Haram controlled about 20,000 square miles of territory within the north-eastern region of Nigeria and had the ability to launch attacks and capture civilians further into central Nigeria. However, with the help of neighboring states, the group has been subjected to limited, yet tangible territorial setbacks. Cameroon and Chad have also contributed troops, helping Nigerian forces encircle Boko Haram.
Along with the killings, Boko Haram has captured at least 2,000 women and girls in recent years. The Islamist group’s captives are subjected to rape, torture, forced, marriage, religious conversion, and those who fight back are often killed. The Nigerian military says it has increased efforts to rescue the hostages, and although they have saved hundreds, many more remain enslaved.