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New Interactive Tool Maps Political Violence in Nigeria, Finds Radical Islamist Group Boko Haram the “Most Deadly”

January 7, 2013

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More than sixty people were reportedly killed in conflicts between government supporters and Islamist militants in Nigeria over the Christmas holidays. A new interactive tool from the Council on Foreign Relations' Africa Program tracks, maps, and documents Nigerian violence due to political, economic, or social grievances. It shows that of all the perpetrators of violence, the radical Islamist group Boko Haram was the most deadly, killing nearly 900 individuals in 2012.

Based on monthly assessments of Nigerian and international news reports, the Nigeria Security Tracker uses interactive maps and graphs to depict the magnitude and geographic distribution of violence in the oil-rich West African nation beginning in May 2011.

"This new tool facilitates a more precise understanding of the violence that is plaguing Nigeria, including changes in its magnitude, methods, venue, and victims. We hoped that better understanding will help the search for sustainable solutions to the conflict," says CFR Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies John Campbell, the former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria who edited the Nigeria Security Tracker.

The tracker includes:

—A map categorizing deaths by state, revealing a concentration of attacks by Boko Haram in northeastern states, and their westward expansion toward Sokoto.

—A line graph plotting the more than four thousand political deaths over time, indicating that October 2012 was Nigeria's deadliest month.

—A bar graph comparing the death tolls of four perpetrators of political violence, establishing Boko Haram as the most deadly.

—A line graph depicting cumulative weekly deaths by perpetrator, showing that violence by sectarian groups and Boko Haram is increasing more rapidly than violence from other sources.

View the Nigeria Security Tracker at: www.cfr.org/nigeria_security_tracker.

Read an Expert Brief by Campbell and Asch Harwood in which they explain Boko Haram and Nigeria's culture of violence.

Learn more about Boko Haram with this Backgrounder and this video interview with Campbell.

The Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Since 1922, CFR has also published Foreign Affairs, the leading journal on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy.

CFR's Africa Program tracks political and security issues across sub-Saharan Africa, and contributes to the foreign policy discussion on Africa.