Boko Haram Invades Three Towns in Northeastern NigeriaNovember 14, 2014 in Nigeria
In the past twenty-four hours, Boko Haram militants have invaded three towns in Nigeria’s northeastern states of Adamawa and Borno after being ousted from a key town in the area by civilian vigilantes.
Reports surfaced Friday that Boko Haram militants have seized control of the northeastern town of Chibok, which is home to more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the insurgents in April. According to local residents, militants attacked and took control of the town on Thursday evening. Ali Ndume, a senator for Borno state, confirmed that Chibok is now under Boko Haram’s control, adding that security forces posted in the town left the area as the insurgents attacked. The capture of Chibok came hours after the militant group seized control of two other towns in neighbouring Adamawa state.
According to local residents, the Islamist fighters raided the towns of Hong and Gombi, located some 100 kilometres (62.5 miles) from the state capital Yola after they were pushed out of the commercial hub of Mubi, which they seized two weeks ago. Locals in Mubi reported Friday that many of Mubi’s residents have not yet returned to the town over fears that Boko Haram may launch further attacks in a bid to recapture the key town. Mubi, the second largest town in the northeastern Adamawa state, was the biggest town under the militants group’s control and is the first it has lost since August, when Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau declared a caliphate in the seized areas. Unconfirmed reports have suggested that vigilantes reclaimed the town of Maiha on Wednesday after a fierce battle, with scores of insurgents said to have been killed.
Despite apparently losing control of Mubi, which Boko Haram had renamed Madinatul Islam, or “City of Islam in Arabic, the invasion of Hong and Gombi effectively see’s the militant group moving closer to the state capital city, where thousands of residents have taken refuge in recent months. Local residents in Gombi have reported that since taking control of the town, Boko Haram militants have been patrolling the streets and firing heavy weaponry at random, with other locals disclosing that many are either staying indoors or have fled into the bush, adding that militants burnt down the police station, the local government secretariat and the town’s market after they overpowered the local police. In Hong, which is located 20 kilometres away, the police station was also razed, with the militants reportedly raising their black flag outside the home of a retired military general.
Boko Haram is believed to be in control of more than two dozen towns in the northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. As part of its goal of establishing a hardline caliphate in the region, in recent months Boko Haram has opted to attack and hold towns in the region, a move that was not previously seen in the militant group’s five-year insurgency.