from Africa in Transition

Another Boko Haram Mass Kidnapping in Northeast Nigeria

December 18, 2014

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Four days after the atrocity occurred, there is news that up to two hundred women, girls, and boys were kidnapped from the small village of Gumsuri near Chibok. At least thirty-five were killed, though the sketchy news reports do not indicate whether they were from a particular group – school boys, for example – or whether they were random casualties. Following a typical pattern, the raiders killed the village headman, destroyed a clinic, and burned at least half of the town. It is also likely that the village was thoroughly looted.

Gumsuri is isolated, and there was no security presence. News of the attack is coming from survivors who have walked the fifty miles to Maiduguri, the state capital. Though there have been no claims of responsibility for the attack, the media is ascribing it to the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

There is media speculation that Gumsuri was attacked because it was a center of resistance to Boko Haram.

On December 13, Abubakar Shekau, who claims to lead Boko Haram, issued a video saying, “let me tell you that the hunters and the vigilante groups will fail and you will also fail.” The Gumsuri kidnapping may have been a follow up to his video.

In the same video  Shekau said he would kill the emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II, because the latter had called on Kano residents to arm themselves against Boko Haram. In the video, Shekau links the emir with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Bush, and “Clinton.” In the last case, it is unclear whether the reference is to former president Bill Clinton or to former secretary of state Hilary Clinton. However, Shekau did not claim responsibility for the spectacular November attack on the Kano Central mosque that left some two hundred dead.

In a seemingly unrelated development, the Nigerian army has announced that it has convicted more than fifty soldiers for mutiny, and that they will be shot.

The Shekau video, the Gumsuri kidnapping, and the mutiny convictions follow the successful convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) where former chief of state Muhammadu Buhari was nominated as the presidential candidate. Boko Haram has previously tried to kill Buhari. If this flurry of activity is related to the APC convention, it may be intended at least in part to distract attention from it, and to signal that Boko Haram has the power to disrupt political life in the two months remaining before national elections on February 14.

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