Boko Haram militants have attacked both a village and border town in Nigeria’s Borno state,
resulting in several casualties.
On July 14, at around 4:30 AM local time, the insurgents struck Damasak, which lies mere
kilometers from the border of neighboring Niger. In recent months, Nigeria has been working to
recapture territory taken by Boko Haram with the help of a task force involving troops from
Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. Damasak had been liberated from Boko Haram by Chadian and
Nigerien back in March, but militants have seized the city several times since. Tuesday’s attack
was substantial, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 12 people.
“They came in Hilux vehicles (pickup trucks) and motorcycles, set fire to all the houses but
all the residents have fled the town since last weekend when troops from the Multi-National
Joint Task Force (MNJTF) were withdrawing to Niger,” recounted a Nigerian vigilante leader
who asked to remain anonymous. He also explained that many of the civilians vacated the area
when the soldiers left because Boko Haram often chooses to strike when a territory doesn’t
have significant military protection.
According to a Chadian security official, the damage done in Tuesday’s attack is still being
assessed. While the devastation is obvious, investigation into the details of the assault are still
underway. “They burned houses and killed people but we don’t have figures. We withdrew from
Damasak a few days ago but the Nigerian army never came to occupy the town. The Chadian
troops are now in Diffa in Niger,” he said.
For the past 6 years, Boko Haram has been engaged in an effort to seize territory in
Nigeria’s northeast to be ruled under strict Sharia law. In March, Boko Haram aligned itself with
the Islamic State, which has claimed land in Syria and Iran as its domain. While Nigeria –– with
the help of its regional task force –– managed to recapture much of the territory Boko Haram
had gained, terrorist attacks by the jihadist group have spiked since May.
Since rising to power in late May, President Muhammadu Buhari has focused heavily on
pacifying tensions and restoring Nigeria’s position as the leader in this ongoing battle.
Adreanna Nattiel is a writer, activist, and queer feminist based in Atlanta, GA. Her primary interest is media and pop culture studies and how they intersect with body politics for people of color. She is a real-life witch, aspiring cat lady, and horror junkie. Her plan is to take over the world, one flawless brow at a time.