On Friday, February 16th, suicide bombers struck the small town of Konduga in northeastern Nigeria, killing at least 20 and injuring dozens more. Reports claim that, at about 9 p.m., three attackers set off explosive devices at a crowded fish market that served as a popular eatery and hangout spot for the locals of Konduga. Two attackers set off their devices inside the market, while the third device was detonated a short distance away.
This act of violence has been attributed to the extremist group Boko Haram, although they have not yet claimed credit for the deaths. Some reports have indicated that all three bombers might have been women; if so, this follows a known Boko Haram tactic of co-opting, kidnapping, or indoctrinating women and children, leading them to become fighters or bombers for the organization.
This attack is not the first time that the area has been hit by extremist violence: the 2014 Borno Massacre, which resulted in the deaths of at least 200 people, took place in the Konduga and Gwoza Local Governance areas, while the city of Maiduguri, 15 miles northwest of Konduga, has been struck by multiple Boko Haram attacks in recent years.
The Islamist militant group began attacking Nigerian government and civilian targets in 2009. Since then, Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people in Nigeria, and the ongoing violent conflict has led to more than 208,000 refugees and 2.3 million displaced people in the Lake Chad Basin, where Boko Haram carries out most of its activities.
The Basin, which includes Nigeria’s Borno State, is experiencing one of the world’s most complex humanitarian crises arising from the combination of violent extremism, food insecurity, and massive population displacement. On February 8th, the United Nations (UN) called for support for their 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, which would affect some 6.1 million people in northeastern Nigeria and other areas of the Lake Chad Basin, combatting the ongoing food insecurity and nutrition crises. Despite humanitarian efforts to mitigate the humanitarian disasters, however, continuing Boko Haram violence in the area has continued to exacerbate the situation.
Nigeria has taken legal steps to rein in Boko Haram. On Monday, February 19th, the Ministry of Justice convicted 205 people on charges related to their involvement with the terrorist organization. Despite these trials, Boko Haram continues to perpetrate acts of terror: in the last week, the group has been accused of both the bombing in Konduga and the storming of a school in Dapchi – also in northeastern Nigeria – where as many as 100 girls were kidnapped
As evidenced above, last Friday’s bombing in the town of Konduga reflects the ongoing battle between Boko Haram and Nigerian authorities, who, despite claiming otherwise, have not yet defeated the extremist group. While the international community is focused on combatting the terrorist group and on mitigating the effects of the violence, it is clear that it is communities like Konduga that will suffer the most from Boko Haram’s extremist violence.
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