Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mystical Snakes and Bees Stalk Boko Haram

How do you terrorize a terrorist? If this story from Nigeria is to be believed, all you need to do is conjure up some "mystical" snakes and bees to hunt them down. Captured members of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram reported to authorities that they were under attack by the ghosts of those they had killed, who took the form of the deadly creatures in order to take revenge upon them.

According to Nigerian newspaper Vanguard, the captured insurgents claimed the creatures -- possessed by ghosts -- had killed many Boko Haram members.

"We were told that the aggrieved people who had suffered from our deadly mission -- including the ghosts of some of those we killed -- are the ones turning into the snakes and bees," one militant told Vanguard. "Our leaders fled, too."

Boko Haram made headlines worldwide for the kidnappings of 220 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, last April. The girls are being allegedly smuggled to Cameroon and Chad and sold as brides to militants for 2,000 naira (£7). Others are being forced to marry their abductors.

Some Boko Haram members believe the insects and reptiles are hunting the insurgents to punish them for the mass abduction. "We decided to flee when almost all our comrades are leaving the Sambisa [Forest] because of constant attacks by snakes and bees, which we were told was as a result of Chibok abducted schoolgirls," one insurgent said.

It would perhaps be overly skeptical of me to point out that encountering snakes and bees is a likely consequence of having to hide out in more remote parts of the African jungle, as Boko Haram members have been forced to do since they attracted international attention by abducting the schoolgirls. Many poisonous snakes can be found in such areas, and African bees are far deadlier than the more docile European honeybee. Not only do they swarm aggressively if disturbed, they also can sting many times without injuring themselves.

But who knows? Whether the attacks are the actions of vengeful ghosts or a natural consequence of going deeper into hiding, it's fair to say that they are a consequence of the abductions either way. Clearly the whole operation was a bad idea from the start.

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