Where to begin?

Adewale Maja-Pearce

  • Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Islamist Insurgency by Virginia Comolli
    Hurst, 239 pp, £12.99, August 2017, ISBN 978 1 84904 661 9
  • Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement by Alexander Thurston
    Princeton, 352 pp, £25.00, October 2017, ISBN 978 0 691 17224 8

On the night of 14-15 April 2014, Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok in Borno State in the far north-east of Nigeria. The girls weren’t meant to be there. The school was closed, but they had returned from various parts of the state to sit a physics exam. It later turned out that the terrorists hadn’t intended to abduct them either. They had left their hideout in Sambisa Forest, a national park long since fallen into neglect, in search of food and fuel. When they met no resistance from the soldiers stationed nearby they broke into the school, then rounded up the girls, forced them into their trucks and drove away. Some managed to escape by jumping off the trucks and running into the bush, where they were taken in by small farming communities; the rest ended up at the Boko Haram camp in the forest, where they were distributed among the terrorists.

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