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I would arrange to photograph the children after Sarah was finished with interviews. We would explain to the subjects that I was going to take a picture of them without revealing their identity. Aisha, who is in her late teens, escaped from Boko Haram while pregnant with the child of a man who raped her in the bush. She returned home briefly to Maiduguri, but left before her family could find out she was pregnant. Nigeria, In order to be able to photograph what was happening with the continuing conflict, I worked on getting the correct paperwork from the military to take photographs in Maiduguri and elsewhere — a process Sarah and I began in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, a week earlier.

I spent days greeting military officials, shuffling among a few different military outposts. I finally received my permission letter, and a few days later, a military official invited me to accompany soldiers on a night mission. A military vehicle heading out to follow up on a suicide-bombing attempt on the outskirts of Maiduguri.

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Every night after the evening curfew, soldiers go on patrol throughout the city. As we were pulling out of the military compound on the night I joined them, the officer in charge of the mission received a call on his radio that a suicide bomber had just exploded near a checkpoint. We immediately rerouted and went to the scene. Maiduguri is surrounded by a security perimeter and checkpoints. Would-be suicide bombers come from the countryside and try to sneak into the city at night to blow themselves up in a crowded place in the morning.

That night, a soldier at a checkpoint spotted something moving in the brush. The soldier fired at the movement, which turned out to be a suicide bomber who was then blown apart when the gunfire hit the explosives strapped to his torso. Some of the soldiers spread out and searched the field while the others gathered around the severed head and examined it, referring to the decapitated man as an infidel. I looked at his face, his eyes wide open with only the whites showing.

I stayed near the convoy of vehicles and kept low to the ground, trying to frame images in the darkness. I balanced my camera on my knee for a long exposure to capture the soldiers moving around the clearing, the stars bright above them. Soldiers on patrol. Suicide bombings are a primary tactic used by Boko Haram. The soldiers later searched the surrounding neighborhood, and we began going door-to-door.

They were looking for money, weapons or materials for bomb making.

Night Soldiers

Soldiers performing a nighttime house-to-house check for insurgents, weapons or other illicit goods after a suicide bombing on the outskirts of Maiduguri. While we were on the search, we heard two more explosions. I learned later that two other suicide bombers had also been seen and shot. A few days after the night patrol, an officer drove me out of Maiduguri to where a convoy was leaving for the town of Damboa.

A convoy lining up just outside Maiduguri before departing under military escort for Damboa, a small town a few hours away.

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Travel through Borno State is extremely dangerous. Many people in the Army are from different parts of the country and often do not speak Hausa, the local language, or know the area well. As a result, they rely on the J. The daily convoy from Maiduguri to Damboa. Despite its military escort, Boko Haram periodically attacks the convoy, abducting and killing travelers and stealing vehicles. Boko Haram then took their vehicles. Traveling by bus, rather than in the back of a truck, is a more expensive but more comfortable way to make the risky convoy trip.

Makinta Dima, left, and Modu Dule, right, were shot by Boko Haram during a minute attack on the Maiduguri-to-Damboa convoy that left more than 12 people dead. Makinta Dima, 20, was asleep by a hospital window. He had been shot in the leg and the arm by Boko Haram during the attack on his convoy.

He lives in Damboa and was traveling to Maiduguri to buy goats, he told me. Another victim of the attack, Modu Dule, had been shot in the arm.

Neighbors by Day, Soldiers by Night in Afghanistan - The New York Times

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