Boko Haram ”stronger in 2017 than in 2016” – BBC Research

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly said that the Boko Haram group has been defeated but BBC analysis of its attacks shows little change.


Research by BBC Monitoring shows the group killed more than 900 people in 2017, marginally more than it did in 2016.

It consistently mounted attacks during the year, defying Mr Buhari’s assertion that the militants had been routed.



Reported Boko Haram attacks per month Source: BBC Monitoring


Boko Haram launched an insurgency against the Nigerian government in 2009 with the aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate in West Africa.

Mostly focused in north-eastern Nigeria, the conflict has reportedly left around 20,000 dead and displaced at least two million.

Led by Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS) in March 2015.

In August 2016, the group split into several factions after IS announced that Shekau had been replaced.

To gain more insight into how it operates, BBC Monitoring tracked local and international media reporting of its attacks in 2016 and 2017, logging the specific details of each attack.

Nigeria-focused journalist Andrew Walker told BBC Monitoring that the uneven nature of local media reporting and the roaming nature of the group mean that the full extent of attacks cannot be accounted for with great accuracy.

But by tracking reporting from 48 different media sources in English, French, Arabic and the West African languages of Kanuri, Hausa and Zarma, this research gives an insight into the scale and geographical spread of Boko Haram’s deadly operations.



Boko Haram reportedly mounted a total of 150 attacks in 2017, an increase on the 127 attacks it is said to have mounted the previous year.

In both years the group launched its highest number of attacks in January, with both these spikes followed by President Buhari’s claims that Boko Haram had met its demise.

The group’s attack locations have broadly remained the same over the last two years.

Nigeria suffered the majority of attacks in both 2016 and 2017, with Borno State – the birthplace of the insurgency – being the most common target.

Boko Haram proved it could still strike further afield in 2017, with reported attacks in Cameroon’s Far North region, Niger’s Diffa region and Chad’s Lac region, all of which border north-eastern Nigeria.

This broadly mirrors where it chose to attack in 2016, but there are slight differences between the two years, with Nigeria experiencing more attacks in 2017 while Niger saw fewer.

Boko Haram reportedly launched 90 armed assaults and 59 suicide attacks in 2017.

Nigeria bore the brunt of these attacks, with the most common method being armed assault.

Across the border in Cameroon the group appeared to follow a different strategy, mounting more suicide attacks than armed assaults.

The same methods in these two countries were also seen in 2016.

The data show a growing overall emphasis on suicide attacks.

In Nigeria, the group increased its suicide attacks from 19 in 2016 to 38 in 2017, with Cameroon experiencing a similar increase.

Suicide attacks were the most common method of attack in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, which continues to be the epicentre of the insurgency, whereas armed assaults were more common elsewhere.

Culled from BBC

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