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Factbox: What is Nigeria’s Boko Haram?
ICC Note
Boko Haram is an Islamic radical group that has been carrying out violent attacks against Christians and security forces in Nigeria. Since Christmas alone, the group has killed over 80 Christians. This articles illustrates some facts about the group.
01/13/2012 Nigeria (Reuters)-The Islamist Boko Haram’s increasingly violent northern-based insurgency is straining relations between Nigeria’s largely Christian south and its mostly Muslim north.

Here are some facts about Boko Haram.

* Boko Haram became active in about 2003 and is concentrated mainly in the northern Nigerian states of Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna.

* Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria means “Western education is sinful,” is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

* The group considers all who do not follow its strict ideology as infidels, whether they be Christian or Muslim. It demands the adoption of sharia, Islamic law, in all of Nigeria.

* Boko Haram followers have prayed in separate mosques in cities including Maiduguri, Kano and Sokoto, and wear long beards and red or black headscarves.

* The group published this month an ultimatum that Christians had three days to get out of northern Nigeria. Since the ultimatum, attacks in northeastern Nigeria have left many dead with hundreds of Christians fleeing to the south. President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Nigeria on December 31, in a bid to contain the violence.

* Earlier this week, President Goodluck Jonathan said the violent sect had supporters within his own government, and the insecurity the group has created is worse than during the civil war that broke out in 1967 and killed more than a million people.

 SOME MAJOR ATTACKS:

* In July 2009, Boko Haram staged attacks in the northeastern city of Bauchi after the arrest of some of its members, and clashed with police and the army in the northern city of Maiduguri. About 800 people were killed in five days of fighting in the two cities.

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* In December 2010 the group said it was behind bombings in central Nigeria and attacks on churches in the northeast that led to the deaths of at least 86 people.

* On August 25, Boko Haram members attacked Gombi police station in the northeast, killing four policemen and one soldier before driving to the First Bank and Union Bank where they killed seven staff and took an unspecified amount of money.

* On August 26, a suicide bomber struck the U.N. building in Abuja. At least 23 people were killed and 76 wounded in the explosion. Boko Haram claimed responsibility on August 29, demanding the release of prisoners and an end to a security crackdown aimed at preventing more bombings.

 – The blast was the first known suicide bombing in Nigeria. It marked an escalation in the group’s tactics and revealed an increase in the sophistication of explosives it uses.

– At least 65 people were killed in the city of Damaturu and the village of Potiskum on November 4. The attacks, which also included a wave of bombings in Maiduguri, were some of the worst staged by the group.

– Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks across Nigeria on Christmas Day, including one at a church near Abuja that killed at least 37 people.

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