The government of Chad has imposed a state of emergency on the northern region by Lake Chad, which for months has been a major stomping ground for the ISIS-affiliated terror group Boko Haram.
The “state of emergency” designation allows the federal government greater flexibility in using military resources to prevent Boko Haram terrorists from operating freely. In particular, this allows for the imposition of curfews and limiting the transit of people in the area, as well as imposing stricter border controls on the lake itself, part of which lies in Nigerian territory. It also allows for police to search suspicious homes, offices, and vehicles with less bureaucratic entanglement than during a state of peace, and for the confiscation of weapons in untrustworthy hands.
President Idriss Deby has ordered more than 5,000 Chadian troops into the area to crack down on Boko Haram’s presence there. He has also ordered the freeing of about $5 billion for use in infrastructure, health, and education in the Lake Chad region, as an effort to equip locals to better resist Boko Haram’s assaults, and to give young men that may consider joining Boko Haram for money more options.
The state of emergency imposed on Monday follows a series of attacks both on Chad’s border territories with Nigeria and on the capital, N’Djamena, escalating steadily since the summer months. Chad has imposed a number of emergency measures since Boko Haram expanded its presence there, beginning with a bombing in June in the heart of the capital. President Deby ordered an immediate ban on the wearing of burqas, or Islamic face coverings, as well as “religious turbans,” which the government argued could easily be used to hide a suicide bomb. The measure required all stores selling such Islamic garb to burn their inventories, sparking some backlash and resulting in the lax application of the law.
A month after the ban was imposed, terrorists clad in burqas executed a suicide bombing killing 15 in N’Djamena.
The Nigerian terrorist group, which has changed its name to the Islamic State West Africa Province since pledging allegiance to terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has expanded its influence outside Nigeria not only to Chad, but Cameroon and Niger, as well. On Wednesday, 25 people were killed in a Boko Haram raid in Niger, an increasingly rare manual assault by male members of the group, rather than a suicide bombing conducting by young women and girls taken captive. Precisely this sort of attack took place on Tuesday in Cameroon, where girls believed to be 13 and 15 years old killed themselves with an explosive that also took the lives of three others. The girls targeted a truck carrying refugees near a mosque, leading police to suspect the mosque itself was the target, not the truck.
As the attacks continue to take place, many have begun to question whether Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to eradicate the group entirely by December will be achieved. Nigerian police announced Thursday that, by their estimate, 9,000 Nigerian policemen have been killed fighting Boko Haram since 2011, when the group, under the leadership of current head Abubakar Shekau, evolved into Boko Haram as it is known today and began staging attacks in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state.