By Aramie Louisville Vas
Dead bodies as far as the eye could see. That was the scene in northeastern Nigeria in January after the slaughter of 2,000 people by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. Most of the people killed were women, children and the elderly who were not able to escape quickly enough from the town of Baga and surrounding villages as Boko Haram carried out their massacre.
Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesperson for a poorly armed defense group that was fighting Boko Haram told the Associated Press in January that civilian fighters had given up counting all the bodies. There were simply too many of them and the medical assistance so limited that many severely injured people who could have been saved simply died as they waited for help.
Is it because attacks are more shocking in areas that more resemble where many of us live in the West, that we weren’t “all Nigerians” back in January? Did we give up so quickly on the Middle East and on the terrible reign of Boko Haram in Nigeria, and so accepted it, that we could summon outrage over Paris but not over the unimaginable violence which grips some parts of our globe to the extent that it is no longer shocking?
On Wednesday suicide bombers, one of whom was 11 years old girl, targeted markets in the Nigerian cities of Yola and Kano. As many as 50 or 60 people were killed, according to witnesses and Red Cross officials, and 120 injured. This adds to the death toll this year at the hands of Boko Haram, which sits at over 6,660. Daesh, in comparison, has been responsible for just over 6,000 deaths this year. We’re outraged over the latter and lukewarm over the former. But the former, in fact, pledged allegiance to the latter back in March. So let’s start, and keep, paying better attention.
Boko Haram translates loosely to “Western education is forbidden.” It has also been translated to “Western influence is a sin”, and “Westernization is sacrilege.” As such, they have targeted students and teachers in special fanatic fashion, killing them by the hundreds, and destroyed or damaged over 300 schools. Boko Haram was responsible for the kidnappings of 276 schoolgirls in April 2014. These terrorists advocate strict Sharia law and women are subject to forced marriage, kidnapping and rape. Children are used as soldiers. From 2013 to 2014, the death toll from terrorism-related attacks in Nigeria increased by 300 percent “the largest increase in terrorist deaths ever recorded by any country” according to the Global Terrorism Index.
Recent reports have been made regarding the destabilization of the major terrorist groups Boko Haram and Daesh. But, nothing has stalled their activities. In October, it was reported Russia had destroyed 80% of Daesh munitions. In September, the Director of Information at the Defense Headquarters of Nigeria announced that all Boko Haram camps had been destroyed, and that the group was so weakened they could no longer hold territory. Well, they are still managing fatal bombings. And now they’re pledged to team Daesh.
What’s it going to take stop the extremists?