Along with pillage, murder, and rape, territorial conquest now tops Boko Haram’s list of pursuits. The brutal terrorist force has been hoisting its flag over towns in Northeast Nigeria, most recently over the strategically significant town of Damboa. The town fell to the marauders at a terrible cost: at least 100 of its residents were slaughtered, perhaps many more. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The fall of the town to Boko Haram marks a swift expansion of the extremist group’s territorial control over Nigeria’s northeast. […]After years of hit-and-run attacks, Boko Haram is starting to hold new ground. The mountains nearby that stretch to the Cameroonian border are dotted with towns where Boko Haram has recently raised its flag, forcibly recruiting young men as fighters and young women as slave wives, officials say.Damboa, in contrast, had been a bulwark of civilian control along a perilous route. It sits about 90 kilometers south of Maiduguri, the largest city in northeastern Nigeria; the roads that cross here connect both to Boko Haram’s nearby base in a nearby forest—as well as Chibok, the town where several hundred girls were kidnapped from a school in April.
According to the WSJ, Damboa was targeted because would-be vigilantes came to the town to buy guns and supplies. As Boko Haram grows bolder and the government flounders, Nigerians have been trying to protect themselves any way they can. For which, it appears, Boko Haram has exacted a bloody toll.The Human Rights Watch recently released the figures on Boko Haram’s monstrous campaign: The militant group has killed more than 2,053 people in about 95 attacks since the beginning of this year. If it intends to conquer and hold more territory, an already battered Nigeria won’t soon see an end to this ordeal.