Boko Haram, a radical Islamic insurgency that has declared parts of northeast Nigeria for the Islamic caliphate, has reportedly surrounded Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno State. A majority of the 650,000 displaced in the northeast by Boko Haram’s widespread violence since 2009 are now residing in and around Maiduguri, according to Human Rights Watch. The possibility of an impending attack has many in Maiduguri worried. Last week, the Borno Elders Forum released a statement demanded assurances from the federal government that Maiduguri would be protected.
09/14/2014 Nigeria (Washington Times) – The militant Islamic group Boko Haram has surrounded Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, according to local leaders who charge that the national government is not doing enough to combat the group.
“The insurgents have rendered impassable almost all the roads leading to Maiduguri,” the Boko Elders Forum said. The forum also said that the insurgents intend to attack the city “from all directions,” the BBC reports.
The forum, which is made up of retired senior civilian and military leaders, called on the military to “urgently fortify the city.”
“We are convinced that the Federal Government of Nigeria has not shown sufficient political will to fight Boko Haram and rescue us from the clutches of the insurgents which may ultimately lead to the total annihilation of the inhabitants of Borno,” the group warned.
The Nigerian military charged that the forum’s statement was “alarmist” and “clearly intended to cause panic in the city and in the nation,” Agence France Presse reports.
The military said the city’s defenses have been “upgraded to handle any planned attack.”
Maiduguri already hosts tens of thousands of refugees who have fled Boko Haram attacks elsewhere. The region’s mobile telephone network is down in many places, hindering communications.
In recent years, Boko Haram – whose name means “Western Education Is Sinful” – has targeted security forces, politicians, Christian minorities, and other Muslims in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north.
Boko Haram has killed thousands since 2009, including at least 2,000 in 2014 alone. The U.N. estimates their attacks have created more than 470,000 internally displaced persons, in addition to some 57,000 refugees outside of the country.
The terrorist group notoriously abducted hundreds of schoolgirls in an April raid; only a few dozen have escaped to return to their families.