Human Rights Watch claims that the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram is responsible for over 900 deaths in some 165 different incidents throughout Nigeria since 2009. About 250 killings have been in the first month of 2012.

In the most recent spate of violence in the northern city of Kano it is estimated that about 185 people died in what appears to have been a well organised attack by Boko Haram on police stations and regional security headquarters on 20 January. It is thought that one of the aims of the terrorist group was to free some of its supporters in detention.

Boko Haram, which was formed in northern Nigeria in 2002, has been responsible for bombing churches, police stations, military strongholds, local and international government offices and banks. These have been mainly in the north, but a suicide attack against the United Nations main office in Abuja killed 25 people last year.

Human Rights Watch is a human rights advocacy organisation based in New York.