EXCLUSIVE: Boko Haram attacks rising in 2019 with new strategies
– Boko Haram killed 873 soldiers in 2019 alone
The Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria is increasing and returning to the precarious state it was in 2014/2015 when the insurgents held territories in the north-east – a troubling challenge calling into question the effectiveness of national military responses to counter violent extremism.
A recent report published by SB Morgen, a geopolitical intelligence platform and obtained by TheNewsGuru [TNG] revealed the situation is also getting worse for the Nigerian army, as the security outfit recorded about 873 casualties in connection with Boko Haram attacks between January- September 2019.
Active since 2009, the insurgency was at its peak in 2014 with the capture of a strip of territories and the harvest of mass casualties in the north-east.
At the time, about 21 local government areas out of 27 in Borno state were under the occupation of the insurgents in 2014.
While the Buhari administration has often claimed to have ‘technically’ defeated the insurgents and degraded their capacity to hold any territory in the region.
The SB Morgen report, however, said the insurgents are recapturing territories and deploying new strategies in governing the largely ungoverned spaces in the north-east.
It said the insurgents – ISWAP faction of Boko Haram – have reduced attacks on the civilian population in an attempt to win support and recruits, but have ratcheted up the same on the security forces.
“In year 2019 to date, the number of casualties for the security forces has almost doubled, as insurgents, mainly from the ISWAP faction, have focused their attacks on military forward operating bases in the fringes of Lake Chad and norther Borno while mobile units come under constant ambush/IED threats, while civilians casualties have remained constant…”
“Constant losses suffered by the Nigerian Army against Boko Haram, the vulnerability of forward operating bases, limitations as a result of inadequate manpower and equipment, influenced the army’s decision to adopt a new strategy of merging smaller forward operating bases into what they term as ‘super camps’ which they hope will provide strength in numbers…”
The report, however, said the strategy has made the army slower to respond to threats.
It said current civilian casualties seem to come from attacks by the Shekau faction of Boko Haram, which is still active in southern Borno.
“A member of the House of Representatives from Borno State claims that Boko Haram controls as many as eight local government areas in the state, ” SB Morgen said.
“While this is probably an exaggeration, there have been reports by humanitarian organisations and residents, of Boko Haram moving unchallenged in the rural areas and setting up checkpoints. This is evident in recent attacks on two local government headquarters where the terrorists ransacked shops and torched government buildings.
“In addition, the gradual regaining of territory by the terrorists punctures the claim by the Nigerian government that Boko Haram has been ‘technically defeated’ based on territorial gains and losses. The Lake Chad region may gradually be moving from a contested and stateless territory to one that is firmly Boko Haram-ISWAP controlled territory, a scenario which will end up taking us back to pre-2015 conflict levels as the Nigerian state will have no choice but to flood the region with troops to take back the territory.
“This portends an ominous trend for Nigeria in the war, especially as the ISWAP faction is apparently committed to not inflicting civilian casualties, which means it can build local support and draw recruits. Such a scenario will prolong the war for much longer than it already has been running.”
The report said security agents, military formations and government’s property appear to be the primary targets of the insurgents.
It also said while the number of attacks galloped after 2015; it fell in 2018 but rose in 2019