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The Geography of Boko Haram: More Deadly but More Remote

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Boko Haram’s brutal wave of attacks seemed unstoppable in 2014. Deaths from the Islamic extremist group’s campaign of violence in Nigeria more than doubled 2013’s toll, surpassing rates seen during the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan .surpassing levels of violence seen in Afghanistan and Iraq. The group overranmilitary bases and circulated footage of a Nigerian Air Force jet it claimed to have shot down . By August, Boko Haram announced an “Islamic State” in northern Nigeria, eliciting comparisons to ISIS’s sweeping seizure of vast territory in Iraq and Syria. Some reports have claimed that Boko Haram controls up to 20 percent of Nigerian territory . An analysis of the geographic distribution of the group’s attacks and movement in recent years suggests more limited and shifting territorial ambitions, however. Despite Boko Haram’s growing lethality and tactical sophistication, the group appears to be concentrating larger proportions of its resources in Nigeria’s more remote border areas. This concentration, in turn, represents an opportunity to contain and isolate the group, though one that would require a coordinated security response that the Nigerian government and its neighbors have so far struggled to realize.

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