A military vehicle drives along the Konduga-Bama road in Bama, Borno, Nigeria, August 2016.
Afolabi Sotunde / REUTERS

Reports of Boko Haram’s defeat have been greatly exaggerated. In December 2015, in the days leading up to Christmas, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared that the insurgency was “technically defeated.” Nearly a year later, Lieutenant General Tukur Burtai told journalists in the Borno State capital of Maiduguri that, “it is very clear that the terrorists have been defeated; there are no doubts about it.” He assured his audience that the government was now focusing on “mop up operations aimed at ensuring that we clear the rest of them.” Such announcements aside, however, the fight against Boko Haram remains a formidable challenge that will likely extend into 2017 and beyond. As the rainy season has drawn to a close and movement throughout the country’s northeast has become easier, a spate of attacks in urban centers and against the communities surrounding Maiduguri demonstrate the insurgency’s resilience.

This is not to suggest

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  • HILARY MATFESS is a Research Associate at the Institute for Defense Analyses and a member of the Nigeria Social Violence Research Project at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.
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