Homeland Security

Civilian Casualties from Boko Haram Attacks Jumped 190 Percent in 2015

A new report from a London-based nonprofit that tracks explosives-based violence found that deaths and injuries from Boko Haram attacks jumped 190 percent in 2015.

Over the same period, the Nigeria-based terror group’s use of suicide bombers rose 167 percent.

Boko Haram pledged their allegiance to ISIS last year, and renewed that vow of fidelity in a video released this month urging self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to have “steadfastness, steadfastness, and patience, patience” to achieve victory.

Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) noted that Boko Haram’s violence is spreading, with Chad and Cameroon ranked among the 15 worst countries in 2015 for explosives violence despite not having any incidents in 2014. Both countries joined a coalition against Boko Haram in January 2015.

“This is a consequence of Boko Haram having escalated its campaign of terror – particularly suicide terror – in Nigeria and its neighbouring states. All but one of the incidents recorded in Chad and Cameroon in 2015 were suicide bombings, and all most probably launched by Boko Haram. Taken together with Nigerian suicide bombings probably also perpetrated by the group, the Chad and Cameroon suicide bombings killed and injured at least 3,104 civilians in 2015,” the report states.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday that there are places in Africa — including Libya, in the fight against ISIS — “where United States is working closely with host governments to help them combat extremism within their own country.”

“I think the most prominent example of this is the concern that we have about Boko Haram, and there are U.S. forces — U.S. personnel that — in Nigeria, that are working closely with the Nigerian government as they fight those extreme elements in their own country,” Earnest said. “So, you know, we have been clear about what our strategy, and that strategy is to build up the capacity of local forces in countries around the world to fight extremists.”

Earlier this month, on the two-year anniversary of Boko Haram’s kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls that launched the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, Earnest said “there are a variety of ways that we have offered assistance both to the Nigerian government and to the Nigerian people.”

“And we will stand with them as they counter this extremist threat,” he said, noting that they “do feel as if the Nigerian authorities have made progress…but the threat still remains and it is quite serious. And it’s why the United States continues to be committed to supporting them as they counter that threat.”

The biggest non-state users of explosive weapons, which include shells, IEDs, car bombs, suicide bombers, and land mines, are ISIS, Syrian rebels, Ukrainian separatists, Houthi rebels and the Taliban, the AOAV report said.

The largest numbers of civilian deaths and injuries caused by IEDs were attributed to ISIS (4,943), Boko Haram (873) and the Taliban (521).

“Despite assertions by the Nigerian government that Boko Haram have been ‘technically defeated’, suicide bombings were also reported this year in neighbouring Cameroon (10 incidents killing and injuring 464 civilians) and Chad (7 incidents, 459 civilian deaths and injuries) for the first time,” the report continued. “If Boko Haram is responsible for all of these incidents (81 in total), then this would make them the most prolific user of suicide bombings recorded by AOAV in 2015.”

“As with elsewhere, when suicide bombings were used in populated areas they inflicted much higher levels of civilian harm. 73% of recorded incidents took place in populated areas. In these attacks around 94% of those killed and injured were civilians. This compares to 35% in other areas. Suicide attacks in populated areas caused an average of 47 civilian deaths and injuries per incident.”

Boko Haram’s campaign of terror has claimed some 20,000 lives since the group launched in 2009.