Boko Haram mounted its first attack in 2004, and since then the group has been responsible for thousands of deaths. The sect demands the adoption of sharia , and has killed many Christians in church bombings as well as more moderate Muslims. There also have been bloody attacks on educational institutions, mass kidnappings of women and children, scorched-earth attacks on entire villages, and attacks outside N Nigeria. In 2011 a UN building in Abuja was struck by a suicide bomber from the group.
After Boko Haram's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by Nigerian security forces in 2009, the group appeared to fragment. At least one of the resulting splinter groups, Ansaru, which formed in 2012 and mainly has targeted Westerners in Nigeria, has formed an alliance with Al Qaeda . In 2010 Abubakar Shekau claimed leadership of Boko Haram. In 2014 the group moved from hit-and-run attacks to holding territory, and declared an Islamic state in the parts of NE Nigeria it controlled it also increasingly targeted political figures. Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015 as it faced a counteroffensive from Nigeria and its neighbors, in which Chadian and Nigerian forces largely forced the group from towns it had controlled. It nonetheless remained capable of launching deadly attacks. Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin subsequently agreed to establish a joint military force, led by Nigeria, to combat the group, but disagreements stalled its creation.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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