Their imprint of destruction

The BBC takes a long look at the devastation Boko Haram has left behind in northern Nigeria.

From one town to another, Boko Haram fighters have left their imprint of destruction – the charred remains of market places, homes, government buildings and farms.

Signboards have been painted over in black and replaced with Boko Haram insignia and inscriptions in Arabic.

“Thank you! Thank you!” a group of women chant as they praise the soldiers who reclaimed their town, Doron Baga, from Boko Haram.

They are the few people we found in the area. Most others fled after possibly the worst insurgent attack yet in the region.

Read the BBC piece itself, because they took pictures. Destroyed market, blackened sign, empty town.

Now the town is deserted. At the main market area, blackened-out shells have replaced what would have been busy shops.

Mangled motorcycles litter the streets, their tyres blown out. Decomposing bodies lie by the roadside and fill the air with the stench of death.

Death is their goal. Not death as a byproduct of their quest for a better world, but death itself. The more dead people, the better.

A group of women take shade under a tree away from the scorching heat. “Boko Haram fighters killed my sister,” one tells me.

“We attempted to leave three times for Maiduguri but the militants threatened to shoot us. They hardly fed us and we were very hungry. But when the soldiers liberated us, they gave us some food.”

Despite the successes of the military, many of the reclaimed towns are empty. Only small groups of women, children and the elderly can be found.

Death and emptiness: that’s what’s halal.


  1. lorn says

    Chaos, dysfunction and death are their tactics.

    If you don’t organize things their way they won’t allow it to be organized at all. Without organization you get chaos, dysfunction, and death.

  2. latsot says

    lorn, Ophelia said that death is their goal, not their tactic. Those things are sometimes hard to tell apart, but I’m with Ophelia on this. Any excuse for killing seems good enough for Boko Haram and its members. The most charitable interpretation I can come up with is that death might have begun as a strategy but has now become very clearly a goal. Something they delight in or are at the very least extremely enthusiastic about causing.

    It’s hardly the first time an ideology has ended up being mostly about killing people.

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