Heidi Vogt: Boko Haram’s Abduction of Girls Still Grips Nigeria

women-escaped-boko-haram-WSJ

Boko Haram has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since the start of 2014. Many have been forced into sexual slavery or trained to fight, says Amnesty International

YOLA, Nigeria— Heidi Vogt reports: In the year since Boko Haram militants kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls from their dormitories in northeastern Nigeria, the missing girls have come to symbolize an insurgency that doesn’t need a large footprint to terrorize a population.

Protests continue in the capital Abuja to urge the government to do more to free the more-than-200 girls. Each time a town has been retaken, local newspapers and radio stations ask the government if the girls were found there.

“This is about Chibok but it is also about what’s happening in northeast. It is about Boko Haram. It’s something that people can organize around.”

— Liz Donnelly, a London-based Nigeria analyst with the Chatham House policy institute

After the recapture of the key town of Gwoza in late March, the headline of the Nigerian website Pulse headlined its story: “No sign of Chibok girls as soldiers recover Gwoza from terrorists.”

In the past two months, Boko Haram has lost much of the territory it had seized. But what may be a more persistent threat remains—that of a hit-and-run organization that instills terror through mass abductions.

[Also see – Photos: Drawings by Child Victims of Boko Haram Attacks]

Boko Haram has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since the start of 2014, Amnesty International said in a new report. Many have been forced into sexual slavery or trained to fight, the rights group said.

But the girls seized in the town of Chibok and publicized in the #bringbackourgirls Twitter campaignhave been the ones that caught the world’s attention and galvanized Nigerians.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

“This is about Chibok but it is also about what’s happening in northeast. It is about Boko Haram. It’s something that people can organize around,” said Liz Donnelly, a London-based Nigeria analyst with the Chatham House policy institute.

There have been rumors in recent weeks both that the girls have been killed and that they were spotted in Gwoza, but neither has been substantiated.

And there may be more kidnappings to come.

With less land under its control, Boko Haram may further target civilians, said Jennifer Cooke, the head of the Africa program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

She said Boko Haram has adapted its tactics from bombings in Abuja to suicide attacks in the northeast to kidnappings to seizing territory. The group seems to be driven by a motivation to disrupt the government.

President-elect Muhammadu Buharihasn’t made it clear how his strategy will…(read more)

WSJ

Write to Heidi Vogt at heidi.vogt@wsj.com

 



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