Since Boko Haram’s 15 April kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from the city of Chibok in northeast Nigeria, the security situation in the troubled Borno state has been on the decline.  According to recent reporting, Boko Haram has continued to conduct a series of attacks throughout its northeastern stronghold, killing at least 200 people and as many as 500 in the past week alone.

In light of this recent activity, various regional news outlets are slowly reporting the details surrounding Boko Haram’s attacks.  While information from the region remains conflicting at best due to widespread communications blackouts and the remote nature of the attack locations, some corroborating information regarding Boko Haram’s tactics is becoming more identifiable.

Observable Tactics

The identifiable factors surrounding Boko Haram’s attacks may be preliminary at this stage, but remain important factors to take into consideration as more significant counter-Boko Haram operations are initiated.  As recent reporting indicates, these factors are yet to be successfully countered by Nigerian Army forces, which continue to struggle to eradicate Boko Haram and its influence from the region.

Nigerian military vehicles, courtesy of BBC.

Location and Communications

As SOFREP has previously reported, Boko Haram maintains extensive freedom of movement in its historic northeastern stronghold, oftentimes taking full advantage of its widespread and widely dispersed nature.

This extensive freedom of movement Boko Haram enjoys is a direct result of the physical dispersal of population centers throughout the region, with many isolated villages scattered throughout.  Coupled with significantly limited communications capabilities (a result of the state of emergency and government control over telecommunications towers, GSM being the primary form of communication), villagers have no expedient method by which to alert or inform nearby villages of their situation.  Likewise, the Nigerian government remains unable to rapidly and effectively mount any significant reaction force to any attacks, which they may or may not even be aware had occurred.

When conducting near-simultaneous attacks in multiple villages in the region, Boko Haram relies on the remote nature of the villages to ensure successful outcomes, outcomes that result in the slaughtering of as many villagers as possible during an attack.  In order to accomplish this, it has been reported that Boko Haram members enter the villages overtly, without any attempts to gain surreptitious access to their attack locations beforehand.

Garb and Vehicles

Wearing various forms of military garb, Boko Haram enters attack locations in a series of vehicle convoys consisting primarily of Toyota Hilux pickup trucks and motorcycles.  It is significant to note that Hilux’s are a common vehicle used in the region by security and military forces as well.  This similarity is one that Boko Haram has been reported to have taken advantage of when first arriving at two of their recent attack locations.

Vehicles recovered from Boko Haram following a village attack, courtesy of Sahara Reporters.

False Pretense

According to recent reporting, upon entering a village prior to an attack, the villagers are informed that the Boko Haram convoy is comprised of Nigerian military forces there to protect the local population.  Having just recently requested military and security assistance, and without any secure or expedient communications systems in place with which to verify this claim, Boko Haram is able to overtly enter the village without any resistance and earn the preliminary trust of the local population.  This same tactic was employed in the town of Chibok on 15 April prior to abducting the 200-odd schoolgirls present there.