Nigerian jihadists Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a primary school on April 14, propelling a previously obscure group to international infamy. But the kidnappings haven’t been Boko Haram’s only recent act of terror.
Also on April 14, Boko Haram bombed a bus station on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, killing over 70 people. And on May 7, Boko Haram launched a 5-hour attack in Gamboru Ngala, a town of 3,000 near the Nigerian-Cameroonian border, that killed as many as 300.
The massacre received relatively little attention in the Western media, compared to the ongoing abduction drama. However, Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper published a series of photos of its aftermath, documenting a burned-out central avenue and ruined vehicles and bridges.
The group had diverted security forces from Gamboru Ngala by spreading rumours that the kidnapped girls had been spotted in another location, the BBC reported.
The carnage exposed the government’s glaring lack of security in Nigeria’s restive northeastern region, where Boko Haram is strongest. And it demonstrated Boko Haram’s ability to spread disinformation and adopt tactics that enable it to undertake intensive, simultaneous operations.
The Gamboru Ngala attack has already disappeared from the headlines — as the New York Times noted on May 7, the massacre was “similar to many others in the past several years that drew little or no notice beyond Nigeria.” Though far from as internationally galvanizing as the Chibok kidnappings, the massacre still took place near a border crossing with Cameroon.
And the Chibok kidnappings have already spurred talk of greater security cooperation between west African states that Boko Haram potentially threatens. Boko Haram’s ability to wreak havoc on a town of 3,000 people, while deceiving the apparently overmatched uniformed security forces, hasn’t yet morphed into a global news story. But it’s typical of the nature of the threat that Nigeria and its neighbours are up against.
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