Boko Haram Pledges Allegiance to IS
Boko Haram has once again pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. In an audio recording posted on the group’s Twitter page on March 7th, someone purporting to be the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, said, “We announce our allegiance to the Caliph … and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity.”
It is not the first time they have pledged allegiance to IS. “We’ve always know that they have connections with al-Qaeda and al-Shabab and others, but now the government should be more aware they are connecting with violent groups around the world,” Boko Haram expert Aliyu Musa told Al Jazeera.
The government dismissed the pledge. Army spokesman Col Sami Usman Kukasheka told the BBC the Boko Haram leader was like a “drowning man.”
“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,” Col Kukasheka said.
Violence continued in the northeastern state of Borno where at least 50 people died in the capital, Maiduguri, over the weekend of March 7th and 8th, 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 had previously reported that a Boko Haram attack on the village of Njaba on March 3rd leaving around 68 people, mostly Christians, dead. The attackers stormed the town and targeted mostly men and boys before setting the village on fire. Among the victims were many Muslims who died while performing morning prayers. A resident of the town told the BBC that the dead had been left to decompose because the villagers feared returning to Njaba.
Nearby, Damboa fell to the insurgents last year, but government forces took it back. “The victims had just returned to the area a few weeks ago after the government recaptured it. Because of this [new] attack, refugees will remain in displaced people’s camps,” reported an Open Doors worker.” The implication is that many of them would be unable to vote in the upcoming March 28th presidential elections.
Father, we pray for Your overpowering comfort and grace to rest upon those who have lost loved ones in this attack. We pray, too, for those who have been displaced by the continued threats of violence; that You would sustain them with shelter and nourishment, and that Your presence with them would heal the trauma they have suffered. We pray for the multinational forces that have come to the aid of Nigeria; that You would use them to break the power of Boko Haram in Nigeria and in neighboring countries. And we pray for Your peace to rest upon the nation of Nigeria as the March 28th elections draw near. In the name of Jesus, who rules the nations with justice, truth, and mercy, Amen.