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Boko Haram

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Nigeria: Boko Haram’s insurgency
Standard Note: Last updated: Author: Section SN06920 19 June 2014 Jon Lunn International Affairs and Defence Section

In the northeast of Nigeria, an Islamist terrorist insurgency continues to rage. This insurgency is now regularly extending into other parts of the country. At the head of the insurgency is Boko Haram, which calls for the introduction of Sharia law and an Islamic state across the whole of Nigeria. There has been a state of emergency in the three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa since mid-2013. Human rights groups have reported serious abuses by Boko Haram but also by the notorious Nigerian security unit known as the Joint Task Force. The government has been predominantly committed to a security-based solution to the problem. In recent months, Boko Haram has further stepped up its violence. How to respond now dominates the domestic political scene in Nigeria. There were major bomb attacks in the capital, Abuja, in both April and May. Boko Haram has also captured international attention through its kidnapping on 14 April of about 270 schoolgirls in the small town of Chibok, Borno State (around 50 reportedly subsequently escaped). Well over 2000 people are estimated to have died in attacks by the group since the beginning of 2014. The Nigerian authorities have been heavily criticised both at home and abroad for their ineffective response to the crisis. Outrage in Western countries led governments rapidly to make offers of assistance to the Nigerian authorities. The UK Government has had three teams of advisors in Nigeria, including experts in counter-terrorism, hostage negotiation and victim support, assisted by an RAF surveillance aircraft that is based in Ghana. The US and France have also deployed personnel and technology. A regional security conference on Nigeria took place in Paris in May. There was...

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