At least 63 people were killed in bombings and armed attacks by the Islamist movement Boko Haram in the northeastern Nigerian town of Damaturu Nov. 5. Bombs went off at both civilian targets and the headquarters of the Yobe state police. A Roman Catholic parish priest told the BBC his church had been burnt down and eight other churches also attacked. Suicide attacks also targeted a military headquarters and Christian theological school in Maiduguri, capital of neighboring Borno state. Boko Haram contacted called Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper to say it carried out the attacks. The attacks come days after Yobe police commissioner Suleimon Lawal denied that Boko Haram had any presence in the state.
Boko Haram’s official name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, Arabic for “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.” But residents of Maiduguri, the group’s principal stronghold, dubbed it Boko Haram. Loosely translated from the local Hausa language, this means “Western education forbidden.” It is said to be seeking an independent Islamic state in Nigeria’s north. Authorities say the new attacks were carried out by a Boko Haram faction known as the Yusufiyya Islamic Movement (YIM), made up of followers of slain leader Mallam Mohammed Yusuf. Ironically, the YIM was said to be a more moderate faction when it split from the main Boko Haram body in July. (Daily Trust, Nigerian Tribune, BBC News, Nov. 5; BBC News, Aug. 26; African Spotlight, July 21)