Nigeria (MNN) — An uptick in Boko Haram violence killed more than 50 soldiers and aid workers in recent weeks. They’ve also kidnapped dozens of women and children, Anadolu Agency reports.
Eleven years of terrorist violence in Nigeria, mainly at the hands of Boko Haram, has displaced more than three million people. Now, Boko Haram is expanding its reach.
“Boko Haram would love to have a caliphate. I don’t know that they’ve cobbled together the ‘organizational know-how’ to do it yet, but they’ve effectively begun the process,” David Curry of Open Doors USA says.
“They have always worked as a terrorist group, but now they want to capture territory.”
More about Boko Haram expansion here.
“It’s not a surprise to Open Doors. We’ve been trying to ring this alarm bell for some time now,” Curry says.
“The government of Nigeria and, to some extent, the Western governments, have seen this as a ‘second-tier’ problem, but it’s not. It’s a ‘first tier’ issue.”
Boko Haram’s ruthless pursuit
Boko Haram follows the tenants of radical Islam, putting Christians high on the ‘hit list.’ The insurgency also places Nigeria at #12 of 50 countries on Open Doors’ World Watch List.
Nigerian believers often seek safety in numbers. Unfortunately, this only makes it easier to find them. Militants identify villages with high Christian populations, then “attack these villages [and] burn them down,” Curry says.
“[They] blow up churches, kill Christians that might be walking around the street.”
Read our full coverage of Boko Haram persecution here. After invoking more than a decade of wrath in northeast Nigeria, Boko Haram violence “[is] escalating,” Curry says.
“They want to take over the territory. [Boko Haram is] doing incursions into Burkina Faso, which wasn’t happening 24 [or] 36 months ago. Now it is, and that’s a sign of the [growing strength] of Boko Haram,” he continues.
“They’re attacking into Lake Chad; they’re in the northwest. They test to see what the resistance will be, and then they run attacks, murders, raids.”
Find your place in the story
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“We need to raise our voice and let people know this is happening. Sharing these stories on social media is part of it because they’re getting drowned out by everything else.”
Finally, send tangible help through Open Doors USA. “If these sorts of things stir your heart, I encourage people to adopt a project,” Curry says.
“Open Doors is working with partners in the region, [identifying] families who’ve been cut off from food or medical care amid the coronavirus.”
Header image depicts Boko Haram militants. Photo courtesy Open Doors USA.