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Boko Haram has launched expanded operations in Gombe state, with numerous killings and burnings. Several media outlets report that among Boko Haram’s targets was a Lafarge cement facility in the town of Ashaka. Lafarge is a French owned cement, concrete, and aggregate business that operates around the world. Lafarge has operated its facility in Ashaka since 1979.
Boko Haram attacked the facility using 4x4 trucks and motorcycles. Its operatives carried off dynamite stores and trucks from the Lafarge facility. Boko Haram also demanded to be taken to the quarters of the French expatriate staff, presumably to kidnap them. However, thus far, there is no word on the French expatriates. The Nigerian workers apparently fled the facility when word reached them that Boko Haram was on its way. The French expatriates may have done the same.
Gombe is not under a state of emergency, though it borders on Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa, all of which are. According to the Nigeria Security tracker, there have been “only” 108 deaths since 2011 associated in some way with Boko Haram (this total does not include the deaths from October).The equivalent figure for Borno is 14,456. So, Gombe may be emerging as a new front in the war between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram.
Boko Haram attacks on foreign-owned facilities have been rare, in part, perhaps, because there are so few of them in northeast Nigeria. As Boko Haram extends its area of operations, attacks on foreign-owned enterprises may increase.