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Two million fear massive slaughter as Boko Haram actively surrounds key Nigerian city
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Boko Haram has seized control over four of the five roads out of Maiduguri, one of Nigeria's key cities. Two million people residing in Maiduguri are living in fear with dwindling supplies, unable to leave.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The mood here in the city is very gloomy and frightened," stated 23-year-old geology student, Dhere Iloka to NBC News. "We do not know when the next attack is going to come, but we know they are always going to come back."
Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, stands as a "potential jewel" for the militants' caliphate, according to NBC News. Two large-scale attacks have occurred in the city during the past 10 days.
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"Many residents fear it is only a matter of time before the city is overrun." Large amounts of people are fleeing to other parts of the country, but this is limited to those with money.
"Everyone left behind is very anxious, but they don't have anywhere to go," explained Bina Ahmed, a clerical worker of Maiduguri.
"The city is certainly symbolic," said Dr. J. Peter Pham of The Atlantic Council. "In the narrative of Boko Haram that is where the martyrdom of hundreds of its fighters took place."
Up until now, Maiduguri has been able to fight off Boko Haram attacks. It is still ran by local government and is actively patrolled by military and police. "It has remained a relative haven," stated NBC News.
Other parts of northeast Nigeria have not been so lucky; Boko Haram's terror has ran rampant, killing at least 10,000 people in 2014 and displacing more than one million.
"We are trying to defend the town so people are not stranded," an anonymous Nigerian soldier told NBC News following Boko Haram's dawn raids the past two weekends. "We are their hope."
Although the Nigerian military has received criticism lately over not being able to end Boko Haram's terrorist reign, they are standing ground in Maiduguri.
According to former ambassador Campbell and Pham, the militants do not currently have the manpower to seize absolute control over a city Maiduguri's size. However, if they continue the raids, the military could be weakened and leave the city more vulnerable.
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"What would Boko Haram do with Maiduguri? Does it have enough personnel to run a city of two million people? I doubt it," explained Campbell.
"Even if they are unsuccessful, they underscore the weakness of the Nigerian government," Pham continued. "Storming through the town, even if they did not take it, would be a victory for Boko Haram. It would be a bloodbath, but it may be something they attempt."
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