After hours of horrific fighting that led to heavy casualties, Boko Haram have seized the town of Bama in Nigeria. Now as many as 5,000 people are displaced and on the run as the terrorist organization continues to run rampant.
Bama is the second-largest town in the Nigerian state of Borno, with a population of about 270,000 people. The state capital, Maiduguri, is the headquarters for the fight against Boko Haram, but now seems vulnerable with the town of Bama a mere 70 kilometers away.
If this seizure is confirmed, it will be a significant event in the development of this new terrorist group, according to BBC Hausa service editor Mansur Liman. The biggest fear is that this will lead to a domino-effect as resistance to Boko Haram melts away.
Like with ISIS, Boko Haram might be gaining enough momentum to carve out a large section of territory for their own. Last month the group captured the remote town of Gwoza. The group's leader Abubakar Shekau, then said that the town and surrounding land was "Muslim territory" and they would begin enforcing strict "Islamic law."
Andrew Noakes from the Nigeria Security Network of experts said,
If Borno falls to Boko Haram, parts of [neighbouring] Yobe and Adamawa [states] can be expected to follow. Parts of Cameroon along the border area would also probably be overrun.The terrorist group has not seemed to notice national borders. Cameroon military officials said that they have killed about 40 Boko Haram fighters that have attempted to cross the border to fight.
So far the situation is difficult to confirm. Locals from Bama said that they saw 400 military troops fleeing, some without even boots, after a military plane accidentally destroyed a barracks. The military countered by saying that they had successfully repelled Boko Haram. But those claims seemed to contradict Nigerian Senator Ali Ndume, who claims he's seen thousands of people running from the area.
The world will just have to wait for the dust to clear before we know how bad the damage truly was.
Boko Haram has been operating for five years, but in recent months the group has gained momentum in their fight to create an Islamic fundamentalist state. They gained global notoriety when they kidnapped about 200 young girls. The U.S., U.K., China and France, among others, have sent military forces to help in rescuing the girls.
Now that Boko Haram may have seized a large town, the world may have to do even more to avert another crisis.
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