Today in Terrorism: 4 November 2011, Boko Haram attacks in Damaturu

Nigerian Islamist terrorist group carries out one of its largest attacks: more than 100 dead.


Nigeria is a nation with a lot of problems. It is by far Africa’s largest country with a population of over 200 million (ranking 7th among the world’s nations). Despite a booming economy, thanks to oil, it has the world’s highest extreme poverty rate.

The country is divided into a largely Muslim north and a largely Christian south, leading to inevitable tensions. Climate change has engendered ethic strife as traditional herders and agriculturalists clash for land and resources.

And then there is Boko Haram

This is an Islamist extremist terrorist group that has been around for more than a decade and focuses its attacks in northeastern Nigeria, although it has also struck elsewhere in the country and even abroad (Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Benin).

Boko Haram released several girls after years of tense negotiations but more than 100 are still missing [Reuters]
Some of the Chibok girls: the Boko Haram flag is in the background to the left (Photo: Reuters)

It is perhaps best (worst?) known for its kidnapping of 276 girls from a school in Chibok in 2014, but is behind other atrocities, too many to count. One of its more despicable techniques is to use young females, some under the age of ten, as suicide bombers.

Boko Haram’s reign of terror has had a significant impact on Nigeria. The group has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions. The economic cost is probably incalculable. What may make matters worse is the fact that the Nigerian president regularly makes announcements just before Christmas every year in which he says the terrorist organisation is on the ‘cusp of defeat’.

Boko Haram has killed some Nigerian citizens

It sure was far from that on this day in 2011. Boko Haram launched attacks using suicide bombers and gunmen on the city of Damaturu that ended up killing more than 100, with several hundred more injured. Targeting the HQ of the Yobe State Police, government buildings, banks, and churches, gangs of masked men roamed the streets for at least two hours, setting buildings on fire and engaging in street battles with security forces.

In claiming responsibility for the attacks a Boko Haram spokeperson promised that “more attacks are on the way“.

He was true to his word as the group went on to carry out more attacks. The end is not in sight.

I wonder what President Muhammadu Buhari will have to say this year?