Nigeria: Boko Haram Again Pledges Allegiance to IS; Attacks Continue
Boko Haram has once more pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS). In an audio recording posted on the group’s Twitter page on Saturday, an alleged leader, Abubakar Shekay, said, “We announce our allegiance to the caliphate … and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity.”
It is not the first time Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group, has pledged allegiance to IS. “We’ve always known that they have connections with al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab and others, but now the government should be more aware that they are connecting with violent groups around the world,” Boko Haram expert, Aliyu Musa, told Al Jazeera television.
The Nigerian government dismissed the pledge. Army spokesman Sami Usman Kukasheka told BBC News the Boko Haram leader was like a “drowning man.”
He added: “The military will definitely see to the end of the insurgency in Nigeria. There is no surprise that he is craving for support from fellow terrorists across the world.”
However, the announcement took place while violence continued in the northeastern state of Borno last week and over the weekend.
At least 50 died in the Borno State capital of Maiduguri over the weekend in what appears to be the group’s third major attempt to take the city. There are conflicting reports about the events, but it appears that there were at least three explosions over a period of four hours at a busy fish market, at a crowded bus station and at a military checkpoint. The deadliest was the attack at the fish market where a tricycle taxi driver blew himself up when he was refused entry into the market, killing at least 18 people.
Open Doors workers reported late last week that a Boko Haram attack on the village of Njaba near Damboa, approximately 60 miles south of Maiduguri, last Tuesday left around 68 people, mostly Christians, dead. Some reports indicated as many as 100 people killed, but BBC reported a lower figure of 45. The attackers stormed the town and targeted mostly men and boys before setting the village on fire. Among the victims were Muslims who died while performing morning prayers.
Because of the remoteness of the area, reports on the attack reached media two days later. A resident of the town told BBC the dead had been left to decompose because the villagers feared returning to Njaba.
Damboa fell to the insurgents last year, but government forces took it back. “The villagers had just returned to the area a few weeks ago after the government recaptured it. Because of this attack, refugees will have to remain in displaced people’s camps,” reported the Open Doors worker.” The implication is that many of them will be unable to vote later this month.”
Niger and Chad launched a ground and air offensive against Boko Haram.
Reuters News reported on Saturday that Chadian troops cooperating with the Nigerians have reclaimed some important towns in Borno. The army has also been able to push the militants out of some territories in neighboring Adamawa and Yobe states.
Nigeria is ranked No. 10 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. Open Doors’ ministry in Nigeria includes trauma counseling, providing safe houses, working with displaced people and praying and encouraging families whose children have been kidnapped.