(New York, N.Y.) — In the first quarter of 2023, more than 1,100 civilians and nearly 100 security officials were killed in Nigeria. Boko Haram and its offshoot, the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), were responsible for 22 percent, or 272, of civilian deaths. The staggering number of casualties underscores the Nigerian government’s ongoing struggle to battle Islamist extremist groups in the region.
To read Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s resource Nigeria: Extremism and Terrorism, please click here.
In early May 2023, seven people were killed and 22 others were kidnapped in attacks across Borno state, northeastern Nigeria. ISWAP members reportedly ambushed Buyalobe village, where they killed three farmers and abducted 11 others. Boko Haram carried out a similar attack in Gamboru, where the militants killed four loggers and abducted 11 others.
Boko Haram and ISWAP often target civilians in rural areas, including loggers, herders, farmers, and fishermen, to maintain community fear. Following the attacks, violent extremists have typically accused the victims of “spying” for the military to retroactively justify their raid.
The struggle to contain Islamist terrorism in Nigeria comes just weeks after Nigerian authorities claimed to have weakened Boko Haram’s influence in the country through a government-sponsored rehabilitation program for former violent extremists. In March, around 600 former fighters graduated from the Deradicalization, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration (DRR) camp in northern Gambe state, with the goal of being reintegrated into Nigerian society.
Despite the difficulty of responding to attacks, the Nigerian government and its allies have secured small victories in countering violent extremists. Last week, troops from the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), comprised of units from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria, successfully destroyed a Boko Haram base and arrested 19 individuals. Around the same time, Nigerian forces carried out multiple operations in the country’s north that killed 79 fighters and rescued 136 abducted citizens. Following the operations, more than 500 Boko Haram and ISWAP-affiliated fighters and their family members surrendered to Nigerian troops.
To read CEP’s resource Boko Haram, please click here.
To read CEP’s resource ISIS, please click here.