Why Boko Haram May Be a Bigger Threat Than ISIS

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Nigerians protest Boko Haram violence.
Nigerians protest Boko Haram violence. (Reuters)

Boko Haram was the world's deadliest terror group in 2014, ahead of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, according to a report released on 18 Nov. by the Institute of Economics & Peace. It was responsible for 6,664 deaths in 2014, more than any other terrorist group in the world, according to the Global Terrorism Index; it said Islamic State had killed 6,073 people during the same period.

The Index, which tracks attacks globally, also said the Islamic State and Boko Haram were responsible for half of all global deaths attributed to terrorism. Both are known for singling out Christians in their attacks.

With the world's attention on Paris and the 132 lives lost on 13 Nov., the radical Islamist group Boko Haram killed 49 people in two attacks in less than 48 hours in northern Nigeria.

On 17 Nov., 34 people lost their lives in a suicide attack in a busy vegetable market, in Yola, Adamawa State. Some 80 others were injured.

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The following day, 15 people were killed and 53 injured in twin blasts in a popular phone market in Nigeria's main northern city of Kano. According to local sources, two female suicide bombers detonated their bombs.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who vowed to eradicate the Islamist insurgency, condemned the attacks. He called on Nigerians not to despair, and to renew vigilance in order to reduce the frequency of such attacks.

In recent months, dozens of towns and villages in northeastern Nigeria, taken over by militants last year, have been liberated by the Nigerian military. But the situation is still volatile as the radical group has intensified suicide attacks both in Nigeria and neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

Boko Haram's regional security threat was debated at a meeting in the UK Parliament on Tuesday (17 Nov.).

A Christian woman, held captive last year in Boko Haram camps after the killing of her husband and two sons, gave a chilling testimony of the attack on her town of Mubi, in Adamawa State, on 29 Oct., 2014.

"As we were trying to escape, we met with [Boko Haram] on our way. They stopped us and asked, 'Are you Christians or Muslims?' We answered, 'We are Christians'. They told us to lie down on the roadside.

"I heard them shooting a gun. I thought they were shooting in the air. But I soon realised that my husband and two sons were shot dead."

The woman, along with other Christian women and children, were taken by Boko Haram and put in a house.

"We were about 30 women. We pleaded with them to let us go, but instead, they always terrified us. Sometime they came with guns and started shooting into the air.

"Sometimes, they put us into a narrow patch of ground at gunpoint and asked again: 'Christians or Muslims, Christians or Muslims, Christians or Muslims?' Just to terrify us."

As the time went by, their captors transferred the women from one house to another.

"We kept begging them to let us go, but instead, they kept challenging us over our religion," she told the London meeting. "When we told them we are farmers, they said, 'You should join our religion so that you will not suffer, because all things will be brought to you. You will just cook and eat'."

The living conditions, she said, were bad, and food scarce.

"They only gave us rice and oil, and it's not enough for all," she said. "Most of the time, it's only the young ones who could eat. Some were just two-weeks-old and the oldest was 9-years-old."

On 29 Nov. 2014, she escaped captivity following a military operation.

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