On Monday morning, May 12, I sat in the backseat of a Toyota Corolla, headed to Chibok. With a satin abaya draping my body in a sheath of black, and my hair curled underneath a black chiffon hijab, my careful effort to blend into northeastern Nigeria’s conservative, predominately Muslim society appeared to be working. The soldiers who peered into the backseat gave me casual glances, waving us past checkpoint after checkpoint.
“This is the heartland of Boko Haram,” said the governor of Borno State when I visited him in the state capital of Maiduguri along the way. A month earlier, militants from the radical Islamist group had seized a secondary school in Chibok and kidnapped almost 300 female students. The town had quickly become an emblem of a region in crisis, where insurgents attack churches and mosques and kill children in their sleep while shouting “Allahu akbar.”
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