Boko Haram, the radical Islamist sect behind a recent surge of violence in Nigeria, launched a series of attacks Friday that left at least 185 people dead in Kano, the country’s second-largest city. The attacks struck multiple security buildings as well as the regional police headquarters, and were the deadliest yet by the militant organization.
The group, which aims to overthrow the Nigerian government and impose Sharia law, has grown increasingly violent, with its August 2011 bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja, the capital, as well as its attacks on churches raising alarm among international observers.
“Boko Haram is constantly evolving, in the way they carry out their attacks and in their tactics,” Elizabeth Donnelly, who manages the Africa program at Chatham House, told Trend Lines. “They have certainly grown in confidence over the past two years. . . . Kano is a major city in Nigeria, and so it is quite a statement to go in and carry out such a heavy attack.”