(New York, N.Y.) – Last week, Boko Haram extremists abducted more than 300 students from a boys’ boarding school in Kankara, northwest Nigeria. The attack was carried out in a town located hundreds of miles from the insurgent group’s stronghold in the Lake Chad Basin, leading to speculation that Boko Haram is expanding its operations across West Africa and has potentially formed alliances with other militant groups in the Sahel.
On Tuesday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out with the intention to “promote Islam” and prevent “Western education.” An estimated 333 students remain missing as negotiations between government officials and the kidnappers are ongoing.
For more than 10 years, Boko Haram has engaged in a bloody campaign to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, in Nigeria. Since 2009, Boko Haram has reportedly claimed the lives of some 30,000 people, and displaced over two million. In 2014, the group abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls in the northern town of Chibok in Borno, triggering international condemnation.
Increasingly, Boko Haram is believed to forcibly conscript its members. Between 2014 and 2016, the group reportedly abducted 10,000 boys and trained them as foot soldiers. Boko Haram is believed to send many of these conscripted recruits to Cameroon where they are “re-educated” with Boko Haram’s ideology.
To read CEP’s Boko Haram resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Nigeria resource, please click here.