Nigeria and its allies appear to be making headway in the fight against Boko Haram. However, these initial victories may not mean that the region is closer to ending its fight against violent radical Islam.
At the beginning of the month, forces from Chad and Niger joined Nigeria fighting against Boko Haram, and the African Union (AU) supported the development of an 8,000-strong regional counterterrorism force. Last week, the Nigerian army stated that it had pushed Boko Haram from all but three local government areas in Nigeria’s northeast including Abadam, Kala-Balge, and Gwoza. The country’s national security spokesman claimed that the military had begun the “final onslaught” against the terrorist group. Earlier in the year, the State Department-designated terrorist group controlled vast swathes of northeastern Nigeria, including areas of Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa States.
President Goodluck Jonathan is also predicting the group’s demise; he told the BBC that “They are getting weaker and weaker by the day … I’m very hopeful that it will not take us more than a month to recover the old territories that hitherto have been in [Boko Haram’s] hands.”
While pushing Boko Haram from its physical bases and recovering land is important, Nigeria is far from free of the violence generated by the jihadist group. Boko Haram has continued to launch attacks within the country and across the border even as it weathers assaults by multi-national forces. On Sunday March 15, the group attacked the Chadian town of Djargagoroum. The morning attack was repelled, but one man was killed and at least two houses were burned to the ground.
On Wednesday, the group attacked the Nigerian border town of Gamboru, killing 11 civilians. The jihadists were reportedly driven out by Cameroonian forces who responded to their gunfire. Gamboru was taken over by the terrorist outfit last August after it was attacked several times. The besieged border town remained under Boko Haram’s thumb until early February, when the group was ousted by a combination of forces from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and local vigilante outfits.