Christian religious leaders are putting more pressure on the government to do something to reduce the violence against Christians in central and northern Nigeria. Over a thousand Christians were killed in 2019 because of this. It was not just Boko Haram and ISWAP, but also Moslem tribes that have been attacking Christians in northern and Central Nigeria in a pattern that has existed for centuries but has gotten worse in the last decade. Moslem politicians and government officials play down the violence and are now accused of making the situations worse by not taking any action against the Islamic killers.
About half of all Nigerians are Christian but most of them live in the south, where the oil and most of the developed economy is. Christians are better educated and more successful economically, which strikes many Moslem Nigerians as not right. After all, Christians are infidels and enemies of Islam. Boko Haram is more direct and believes that all Christians must convert to Islam. Those who resist must be killed or enslaved. Most Nigerian Moslems disagree with these Boko Haram attitudes towards Christians, Boko Haram considers Moslems who disagree with them over Christians to be enemies of Islam and subject to death unless they change their attitude.
ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Province), the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) faction of Boko Haram, has been active in northern Borno State and neighboring countries. For over a year ISWAP has been considered one of the most active ISIL branches. Most “Boko Haram” violence in Nigeria is usually the work of ISWAP, which accounts for about two-thirds of the Boko Haram gunmen.
While Islamic terrorism remains a major issue in Nigeria, such is not the case in the rest of the world. Islamic terrorism no longer dominates the world news now that ISIL has been largely suppressed. Global Islamic terrorism-related deaths have fallen by over 50 percent since 2014 when there were 35,000. Global deaths hit 19,000 in 2017 and under 16,000 for 2018. These deaths are still declining. This activity is most visible in the GTI (Global Terrorism Index), which counts all forms of terrorism. That puts Nigeria in the top ten because its casualties from Boko Haram violence alone would not do it. In the last year or so most terror-related deaths in Nigeria have come from tribal warfare.
Currently the worldwide top-ten consists of Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, India, Yemen, Philippines, and Congo. India, Philippines, Yemen and Congo all have Islamic terrorism accounting for a minority of the deaths. Nigeria would as well except that many of its non-Islamic terrorist deaths are from Moslems attacking fellow Moslems for purely economic reasons. Despite that in 2018 worldwide terrorism deaths declined 15 percent to 15,952. This decline is, so far, a four year trend and even Syria is one of the areas where there have been fewer deaths in the last few years. Egypt saw an even more dramatic 90 percent decline. This decline has continued for 2019 but the headline news does not cover trends like that. The old news adage, “if it bleeds it leads” is as true as ever and in Nigeria there are bloody headlines daily because of Islamic terrorist or tribal violence.
Since 2014 five nations (Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan) have accounted for most of the terrorism-related deaths. The largest source of Islamic terror deaths during that period was ISIL, a more radical faction of al Qaeda that currently is where the most radical practitioners of Islamic terrorism are found. Islamic terrorism continues to be, as it has been since the 1990s, the main source of terrorism-related deaths, accounting for about 90 percent of the fatalities. The remainder of the terrorism-related deaths are ethnic (often tribal) conflicts in Africa and Asia. Purely political terrorism accounts for a fraction of one percent of all terrorism-related deaths and are outnumbered by terrorism deaths inflicted by common (often organized) criminals.
January 6, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State), at the Gambarou border crossing to Cameroon, a ten year old boy found a grenade and was playing with it when it exploded killing ten and wounding about 30 people. Five of those hurt were Cameroonians the rest Nigerian. At first, the explosion was thought to be the work of Boko Haram, which has been very active on the Cameroon border lately. Cameroon complains that in the last few months there are often five or more Boko Haram attacks or clashes with security forces each week.
January 5, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State), Chad has withdrawn the last of 1,200 troops it sent to Borno in late 2019 to assist operations against Boko Haram and ISWAP on both sides of the Chad border. Chad is constantly attacking or chasing out Boko Haram groups that have entered Chad around Lake Chad.
January 3, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State), Boko Haram raiders killed three civilians near Chibok (on the edge of the Sambisa Forest). Sambisa remains a popular hideout for Boko Haram groups.
January 2, 2020: In the northeast (Adamawa State), Boko Haram raiders were repulsed, with heavy losses, when they sought to attack and loot a town near the Sambisa Forest. At least a dozen Boko Haram dead were left behind while other dead and wounded were taken by the retreating Islamic terrorists.
In the south, off the Niger River Delta coast, pirates attacked a dredging vessel on its way to an oil terminal. Four security guards onboard the dredger were killed and two wounded after a gun battle with the pirates, who then kidnapped three foreign (two Russians and one Indian) crew members.
January 1, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State), the air force attacked some Boko Haram outside Gwoza, a town near the Cameroon border, killing over 30 of the Islamic terrorists.
In the south, off the Cameroon coast, pirates, apparently from Nigeria, attacked a Greek tanker. Portable valuables were taken as well as eight of the 28 man crew.
December 31, 2019: In the northeast (Borno state), the air force attacked Boko Haram near Damboa and killed about ten of them. Damboa in the northern half of Borno state, an area that borders Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The main road to this area has been contested by Boko Haram since 2013. Whoever controls Damboa has easy access to the northern half of Borno state. Boko Haram activity has always been heaviest around Damboa and points north. Those areas have lost most of their population, who fled to refugee camps or other parts of Nigeria. The local economy is largely gone but the Islamic terrorists remain. The army is again trying to clear the road north of Boko Haram's presence. The ambush was one of several clashes between troops and Boko Haram in this area over the last two days.
December 29, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), outside Biu, a town in the southernmost part of the state, Boko Haram raiders killed one civilian kidnapped two.
December 27, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), outside Bama, near the Cameroon border. A joint operation by Nigerian troops and members of the
MNJTF (Multi-National Joint Task Force) carried out several operations against ISWAP near Bama, which
was once the second largest city in Borno. These raids shut down several ISWAP camps, lest several Islamic terrorists dead and about 75 captured. The troops freed 165 civilians that were being held as slaves or hostages. The troops seized over a dozen vehicles, tons of supplies and a lot of weapons and ammo.
Bama has long been the site of battles with Boko Haram. Back in early 2016 over a year of Boko Haram violence had already left Bama in ruins. Over 80 percent of its structures had been destroyed or burned out. Nearly all the original population (270,000) has fled since Boko Haram first seized it in September 2014. During seven months of Boko Haram's occupation, the economy of Bama was destroyed. Bama changed several hands times as the army kept trying to take it and keep Boko Haram out. That was finally accomplished in early 2016 and all the fighting literally destroyed the city. Bama, once a regional trade center, has yet to revive and that is one reason why the Borno economy has been slow to recover. Groups of Boko Haram gunmen still operate around Bama.
December 26, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), ISWAP kidnapped ten Christians (a bride and her bridal party) who were traveling from the state capital to neighboring Adamawa State for the wedding. The captives were taken to Gwoza, a town near the Cameroon border and soon beheaded and the murder captured on video for release on the Internet. ISWAP said the beheading was in retaliation for the recent death of ISIL leader al Baghdadi in Syria.
December 25, 2019: In the northwest, across the border in Niger, Boko Haram killed 14 Niger soldiers.
December 24, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), Boko Haram raiders attacked a Christian village near Chibok (next to the Sambisa Forest), killing seven villagers and kidnapping a teenage girl.
December 23, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), outside Biu, a town in the southernmost part of the state, Boko Haram raiders killed three civilians. The next day troops caught up with the Boko Haram raiders near Biu and killed 48 of them.
December 22, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), Boko Haram raiders attacked Nganzai, north of the state capital, killing seven civilians and kidnapping five others. Elsewhere in Borno, near Konduga (35 kilometers from the state capital Maiduguri) a gun battle left six soldiers and three Boko Haram dead. In the far north, on an island in Lake Chad Boko Haram killed at least fifty civilians, twenty of them Cameroonians.
In neighboring Yobe State soldiers clashed with a large group of Boko Haram, killing 31 of them outside the state capital (Damaturu). There have been several such clashes since early 2019, the first such violence here since 2014.
December 17, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), across the border in Chad (Kaiga, north of Lake Chad) Boko Haram raiders killed fourteen civilians.
December 16, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), the air force attacked some Boko Haram outside Gwoza, a town near the Cameroon border, killing about a dozen of the Islamic terrorists. That military has repeatedly clashed with Boko Haram in this area since 2014.
December 14, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), the air force attacked Boko Haram gunmen at Kukawa, near Lake Chad and killed about ten of the Islamic terrorists. Elsewhere in Borno Boko Haram clashed with Fulani tribesmen at Ngala, near the river that forms the border with Cameroon, killing at least 19 of the Fulani.
December 13, 2019: In the West African nation of Togo, local pirates released three sailors kidnapped from a tanker in late 2018. Back then ten Filipino crewmen on two commercial vessels operating off the west coast of Africa were taken hostage by pirates, along with sailors from several other nations. This area, in the Gulf of Guinea, has replaced Southeast Asia as the area of highest piracy activity. Since there is no safe space to take captured ship the West African pirates board any vulnerable commercial ship at night, round up the crew, loot the ship of portable valuables and sometimes take members of the crew that might yield a ransom. The loot and hostages are then taken ashore and hidden away in camps deep inside the Niger River Delta or other remote coastal areas. In this case, the pirates were from Togo, a small nation west of Nigeria on the Gulf of Guinea. One of the sailors released, apparently after the payment of ransom, was Filipino. Another Filipino sailor on this crew was to be released but he died of illness before the release date. Filipinos sailors account for the largest national group among crews of large, sea-going vessels. As a result, when hostages are taken by pirates, Filipinos are usually among them.
December 12, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), ISWAP raiders killed fifteen civilians outside Abadam, on Lake Chad. Elsewhere in Borno Boko Haram kidnapped four aid workers.
December 11, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), the air force attacked a large group of Boko Haram outside Gwoza, a town near the Cameroon border, killing at least thirty of the Islamic terrorists.
December 10, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), across the border in Niger ISWAP gunmen ambushed a military convoy, killing 71 soldiers and losing about a dozen of their own before retreating. ISWAP used mortars as well as at least one suicide car bomb in the attack.
December 8, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), Boko Haram clashed with security forces leaving one policeman and two soldiers dead.
December 7, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), a Boko Haram roadside bomb killed a soldier near the town of Marte on Lake Chad.
December 5, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), across the border in Cameroon Boko Haram gunmen killed four civilians.
December 4, 2019: In the northeast (Borno State), Boko Haram kidnapped 14 civilians outside the state capital Maiduguri. Across the border in Cameroon, Boko Haram kidnapped 21 civilians.
December 3, 2019: In the south (Rivers State), pirates attacked a Greek tanker offshore and kidnapped 19 (18 Indians and a Turk) of the crew. The tanker had just taken on a load of Nigerian oil and was headed for India when attacked by pirates 138 kilometers off the coast. This ship had ignored warning about the piracy in the area and did not request a navy escort as it headed for the open ocean.