A comprehensive look at the history of attacks by Nigeria's Boko Haram

Boko Haram has been receiving more attention from the international community and media since its June 16 attack in Abuja. The scrutiny warrants a look at its history.

Felix Onigbinde/AP
Fire fighters, put out a fire following an explosion, at the police headquarters, in Abuja, Nigeria on June 16, 2011.

Boko Haram, a Muslim rebel movement based in northeastern Nigeria, is a frequent topic on this blog and has been a subject of increasing scrutiny by journalists and policymakers following the June 16 bombing at the police headquarters in Abuja. What follows is a list of Boko Haram’s attacks from July 2009 to the present. Given the vast number of incidents linked to Boko Haram, it is nearly impossible to compile a comprehensive list, but I’ve done the best I can. Please forgive the occasional inaccuracy or omission, and let me know if I’ve left out any incident.

There are a number of background pieces that give insights into Boko Haram. The BBC has a special report from Maiduguri, the stronghold of the movement. Reuters has a helpful Q&A on the movement, and al Jazeera has a backgrounder from 2010.

Here is the list. For each incident I have listed the date, method of attack, target (if known), location, and casualties.

  • The 2004 attacks in Kannama are often called a precursor to later uprisings.
  • July 26, 2009: Boko Haram launches mass uprising with attack on a police station in Bauchi, starting a five-day uprising that spread to Maiduguri and elsewhere.
  • September 7, 2010: Gunmen attack a prison in Bauchi, killing around five guards and freeing numerous prisoners, including former sect members.
  • October 6, 2010: Gunmen assassinate two security guards outside a politician’s home and, several hours later, assassinate ANPP leader Awana Ngala in Maiduguri.
  • October 9, 2010: Gunmen assassinate Muslim cleric Bashir Kashara and one of his students in Maiduguri. Separately, gunmen assassinate a police officer in Maiduguri.
  • October 11, 2010: Bombing/gun attack on a police station in Maiduguri destroys the station and injures three
  • December 28, 2010: Boko Haram claims responsibility for the Christmas Eve bombing in Jos that killed 38, but police are skeptical; Boko Haram also tied to an attack on churches in Maiduguri.
  • December 28, 2010: Gunmen assassinate a senior police officer and two others at a hospital in Maiduguri.
  • January 3, 2011: Gunmen assassinate a policeman in Maiduguri.
  • January 28, 2011: Gunmen assassinate ANPP gubernatorial candidate Modu Fannami Gubio and eight others in Maiduguri.
  • February 15, 2011: Gunmen attack a church in Maiduguri, no casualties confirmed.
  • February 20, 2011: Gunmen assassinate a policeman (in Maiduguri?).
  • February 23, 2011: Gunmen assassinate a policeman (in Maiduguri?).
  • February 28, 2011: Gunmen attack a police commander’s home and kill two policemen.
  • March 2, 2011: Gunmen assassinate two policemen in Maiduguri.
  • March 13, 2011: Gunmen assassinate Muslim cleric Imam Ibrahim Ahmed Abdullahi in Maiduguri.
  • March 27, 2011: Gunmen assassinate ANPP leader Alhaji Modu Gana Makanike in Maiduguri.
  • April 9, 2011: Bombings at polling places injure several and killing at least one person in Maiduguri.
  • April 20, 2011: A bombing in Maiduguri kills a policeman.
  • April 24, 2011: Four bombs explode in Maiduguri, killing at least three.
  • May 17, 2011: Gunmen kill a policeman in Maiduguri.
  • May 29, 2011: Bombings at an army barracks in Bauchi city and elsewhere later claimed by Boko Haram.
  • May 31, 2011: Gunmen assassinate Abba Anas Ibn Umar Garbai, brother of the Shehu of Borno, in Maiduguri.
  • June 6, 2011: Gunmen assassinate Muslim cleric Ibrahim Birkuti in Maiduguri.
  • June 7, 2011: Teams of gunmen launch parallel attacks with guns and bombs on a church and police stations in Maiduguri, killing five.
  • June 16, 2011: Bombing at police headquarters in Abuja, claimed by Boko Haram. Casualty reports vary.
  • June 20, 2011: Gunmen attack a bank and a police station in Kankara (Katsina State), but police later say they were bandits, not Boko Haram.
  • June 26, 2011: Gunmen shoot and bomb a bar in Maiduguri kills some 25 people.

I hope this list will permit deeper analysis of trends in these attacks. I may write something on that next week, but in the meantime definitely leave a comment if something leaps out at you.

Alex Thurston is a PhD student studying Islam in Africa at Northwestern University and blogs at Sahel Blog.

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