MS Risk Blog

Boko Haram Suicide Bombings Increased in 2015

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According to a new report that was published on Wednesday, suspected Boko Haram suicide bombings caused a massive increase in the number of civilian deaths an injured in Nigeria in 2015.

Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has reported that the number of fatalities and injures increased 190 percent last year from the previous year while the use of human suicide bombers rose 167 percent during the same period. AOAV reported in “Unacceptable Harm – Monitoring Explosive Violence in 2015” that of the 3,048 deaths recorded in 84 incidents in Nigeria in 2015, 2,920 were civilian casualties, or 96 percent of the total, noting that this made Nigeria the fourth worst-hit country in the world for deaths and injuries from conflict in 2015, behind Syria, Yemen and Iraq, with Afghanistan in fifth. The London-based non-profit group has stated that the increase was part of a global trend that had seen a rise in civilian casualties from “explosive weapons” for the fourth consecutive year. “Explosive weapons” include artillery shells, landmines, air strikes, improvised explosive devices, car bombs and suicide attacks. While Boko Haram only rarely claims responsibility for attacks, there is no other group in the country known to employ suicide bombers as a tactic. The report disclosed that assuming the Islamists were behind the attacks, “then it would make them the most prolific user of suicide bombings recorded by the AOAV in 2015.” Over the past year, Boko Haram has increasingly used suicide bombings in its insurgency, which began in 2009. In particular young women and girls have become a favoured method of inflicting maximum civilian causalities in northeastern Nigerian as well as in neighboring states in the Lake Chad region. AOAV has reported that 923 civilians were killed or injured in neighboring Cameroon and Chad in eighteen incidents that were reported in 2015. Boko Haram’s use of guerrilla-style tactics has long made it difficult to combat, even though President Muhammadu Buhari maintains that the group has been “technically” defeated. On 26 April, the military warned the public in a statement that “fleeing remnant terrorists have laid landmines on stretches of farmland.” The statement further disclosed that “these latest tactics of the terrorists is a grand design to cause fear and panic among the farmers as well as the local populace,” It noted that efforts are currently underway to “neutralize” the mines. It also advised people to be wary of “strange or suspicious objects” in the soil. The latest warning risks complicating further the return of many of the over 2.6 million people displaced by the violence, amidst concern about food shortages and post-conflict reconstruction costs.

According to the AOAV report, a total of 43,786 deaths and injuries were reported worldwide in 2015 as a result of the use of explosive weapons – up two percent from 2014. Civilian deaths accounted for 33,307 or 76 percent of deaths. Over the past five years, AOAV has recorded a total of 188,331 deaths and injuries across the world.

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