NAIROBI — In the week since Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated as president of Nigeria, vowing to eliminate Boko Haram, the extremist group has responded with a series of deadly bombings that have killed dozens of people across the country’s northeast.
Those attacks have underscored the enormous task ahead for Buhari, a former military dictator who was seen by many as the right man to rid the country of terrorism. They have also highlighted the challenge for the United States, which is eager to defeat Boko Haram but leery of offering Nigeria a large increase in military assistance before its security forces — known for serious human rights abuses — are restructured.
The next chapter of the fight against Boko Haram could be the most difficult.
“I think we might be seeing the end of the large battlefield phase of this, but if Boko Haram goes back to hit-and-run tactics, it could be even harder for Nigerian military forces,” said a senior U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about bilateral relations.