Showing posts with label Boko Haram. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boko Haram. Show all posts

President Buhari’s Amnesty Can Make Boko Haram Take Over Nigerian Government – Arewa Group

The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum has said President Muhammadu Buhari should not pardon “repentant” Boko Haram fighters that would later become Taliban and spring unrest such as happened in Afghanistan.

AYCF warned that the pardoned Boko Haram insurgents who were reintegrated into the society may replicate in Nigeria what Talibans did in Afghanistan.

The AYCF National President, Yerima Shettima, said the Boko Haram insurgents may take over the Nigerian government like the Taliban did in Afghanistan.

Shettima said this while speaking with Daily Post while condemning the decision of the Nigerian government to rehabilitate repentant Boko Haram members.

He said, “Things like this should be an experience we should work on ahead of time to avert, and that is why I defer from this ideology of granting amnesty to people who committed so much damage to Nigeria.

“In the case of the Taliban in Afghanistan, you will see that it’s the same thing that replicated itself that we in Nigeria are almost bumping into now.

“Remember that it was the idea of Obama to grant some Taliban leaders amnesty; eventually, they gathered momentum and suddenly ousted a legitimate government because they see themselves as the government already.

“This same experience we are likely to have, but God forbid, we will resist such in Nigeria. Why should somebody who committed the crime of killing people, chasing people out of their homes to IDP camps, killing them still be reintegrated into the society?

“Instead of trying to rehabilitate victims back to their homes, the government is celebrating the same man who artificially created the trouble for them that they are exhausted. They may probably regroup and attack again; we are now busy granting them amnesty; I really don’t understand what Nigerians think at times.

“If you grant them amnesty, do you think the society will allow them to sit around? It’s impossible. Government should be all out to fight them once and for all, prosecute them and make them face the law because that would serve as a deterrent to those who felt cheated would be happy, and the society would also know that you can’t do things wrongly and get away with it. This will even serve as a deterrent to those thinking of committing such crimes.

“Today, we have a problem of terrorism with bandits; if you think you can’t prosecute them but grant them amnesty, then there is no need to keep people in prison; allow everybody to come back home, give amnesty to everybody lets know we are in a society where crime becomes the order of the day.” Saharareporters 


Nigerian: Troops kill more Boko Haram fighters, arrest scores of informants

Troops of Operation Hadin Kai have killed three Boko Haram terrorists and arrested many of their fighters, informants and logistics suppliers in recent battles in the North East theatre of operation.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-General Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Monday.

Nwachukwu explained that the troops of 151 Task Force Battalion eliminated the terrorists in an ambush operation on their crossing point along Banki Junction – Miyanti road, while others escaped with gunshot wounds.

“The troops also recovered 27 rounds of 7.62 mm (Special) ammunition, three AK 47 rifle magazines and a black fragmental Jacket from the suspects. They are currently undergoing preliminary investigations.”

Nwachukwu further reported that troops of 7 Division Garrison in conjunction with Civilian Joint Task Force have on July 17, tracked and arrested Boko Haram informants and logistics suppliers at Lawanti and Gongolun Communities of Jere Local Government Area of Borno.

The Army spokesperson said the suspects had confessed to having been working as informants for the terrorists, whom they provide with information on troops’ movements, locations, deployments, strength, the calibre of weapons and other activities.

He said they also admitted to have supplied the terrorists with basic logistics for their daily survival, ranging from Petroleum Oil and Lubricant (POL), drugs, mosquito nets, kolanuts, recharge cards and foodstuff. Dailypost


Boko Haram lures recruits with N5,000 - Zulum

Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, yesterday said Boko Haram fighters lure recruits with as low as N5,000. The governor also reveals how his government sustained the fight against insurgents in the state in the last two years.

He made the revelations in his statewide broadcast to commemorate this year’s Democracy Day (June 12, 2021) and his second anniversary in office, stating that “of all Nigeria’s 36 states, none is faced with the level of Borno’s security and by extension, social and economic challenges.

According to him: “From day one, we were faced with an acute humanitarian crisis, particularly in northern and some parts of the central senatorial zones. As such, we made it a policy that as governor, I assume the role of chief humanitarian officer for different reasons. “On one hand, it was our duty to deliver help to our fellow citizens that were either internally displaced or taking refuge in neighbouring countries.

“On the other hand, there was the risk that insurgents could, after making IDPs socially and economically vulnerable, also explore that vulnerability by offering food and cash incentives to recruit fighters who could even serve as their spies in communities. From records, we have experienced instances when insurgents offered as low as between 5,000 and 10,000 Naira to recruit some spies and smugglers of weapons. We therefore needed to take steps ahead by making sure we regularly visit IDPs in all parts of Borno, including remote locations, to efficiently and sufficiently deliver food, cash support, and clothing. We needed to ensure that our good citizens had the support they needed, and they were not exposed to potential attractions for the incentives of insurgents.”

“Borno has thousands of volunteers who are being paid monthly allowances, provided with kits and vehicles to complement the military in the fight against Boko Haram,” he said, adding that his government “continually supports IDPs and vulnerable citizens with cash to strengthen their resilience to Boko Haram manipulations.”

He said: “It has been two years since we took the oath of office, following the overwhelming mandate you, the good people of Borno State, entrusted to us during the 2019 democratic transition.

In these two years, we have together, witnessed continued turbulence even though in the midst of shared hope, shared optimism, shared faith, shared resilience and communal determination to ceaselessly devote ourselves to freeing our Borno from 12 years of vicious insurgency.

“As part of that commitment, we, from our first day in office, made security our number one priority. My first activity as Governor of Borno State was to interface with the head of the military involved in the fight against insurgents.

In our first week in office, we interfaced with thousands of our volunteers from the civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes, and we increased their monthly allowances, in addition to allocating to them more patrol vehicles and other logistics needed to enhance their operational roles of complementing armed forces in fighting Boko Haram.

In our combined approach, we took aggressive steps of recruiting thousands of hunters from different parts of northern Nigeria, mobilised and deployed them to accelerate our support for the military.

We made it a policy that in all our 27 local government areas, volunteers were strengthened with additional recruitment, surveillance vehicles and other gadgets.
The governor told his people that the steps he has taken so far, including encouraging and monitoring of doctors, traditional rulers and civil servants to ensure they remain in the rural communities, have yielded positive results. “Our approach has steadily yielded dividends as we can see from gradual pick up of increased commitment in hospitals, schools, other government institutions and in our local government areas,” he said. Thenationonlineng

Process to prosecute over 400 Boko Haram sponsors ongoing - AGF

THE Federal Government on Monday said the process that would lead to the arraignment of about 400 alleged Boko Haram sponsors and financiers arrested in a nationwide operation in April was still ongoing.

The Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Dr Umar Gwandu, disclosed this in an interview with our correspondent.
The businessmen, including bureau de change operators, were arrested in Kano, Borno, Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna and Zamfara in April.

The PUNCH had reported exclusively on May 4 that criminal charges bordering on terrorism were already being prepared against them as investigations continued into their nefarious activities.

The arrest of the men was sequel to the jailing of six Nigerians in the United Arab Emirates over allegations of terrorism financing.

In the May 4 report, Gwandu had said prosecution of the suspects “will commence as quickly as possible.”

He had hinted that charges would soon be preferred against the suspects.
When asked again on Monday about the stage of the planned trial, Gwandu said the process was still ongoing.

When asked further if the suspects had been charged, he simply replied “Journalists will be notified at an appropriate time.” Punch


Nigerian military investigates reports of Boko Haram leader’s death

Nigeria’s military is investigating reports that the leader of the armed group Boko Haram may have been killed or seriously injured following clashes with a rival group, an army spokesman has said.

Abubakar Shekau has been the figurehead of the organisation that has since 2009 killed more than 30,000 people, forced about two million people to flee their homes and spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

A number of reports published on Thursday in Nigerian media, citing intelligence sources, said Shekau was seriously hurt or killed after his fighters clashed with members of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), which broke away from his group in 2016.

Unknown land grabbers take over Christ Embassy camp ground [Video]

Reuters news agency said it has been unable to independently verify the claims.

A Nigerian Army spokesman, Mohammed Yerima, on Friday said the military was investigating.

“It’s a rumour. We are investigating it. We can only say something if we confirm it,” said the spokesman.

Shekau was said to have been killed on several occasions over the last 12 years, including in announcements by the military, only to later appear in a video post.

ISWAP was previously part of Shekau’s group before its split five years ago, pledging allegiance to ISIL (ISIS). The schism was due to religious ideological disagreements over the killing of civilians by Boko Haram, to which ISWAP objected.

According to local intelligence sources, a new round of fighting erupted in April.

Boko Haram fighters ambushed an ISWAP brigade as they transported weapons to one of their main camps, sources said. Several ISWAP men were killed.

In retaliation, in May, ISWAP launched an attack on a Boko Haram camp. Both sides suffered losses. But, the sources said, ISWAP took the fight to Boko Haram directly in the Sambisa Forest further south.

“ISWAP’s invasion of Sambisa was not to make Shekau surrender but to kill him for his unprovoked attack on its fighters in recent weeks,” one local intelligence source said, according to the AFP news agency.

Shekau’s death, if confirmed, could potentially end of fighting between the two groups, enabling either to absorb the others’ fighters and consolidate its hold on northeast Nigerian territory.

More than 40,000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced from their homes by the conflict in northeast Nigeria since 2009, and fighting has spread to parts of neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Aljazeera 


Boko Haram Leader, Shekau On Killing Spree After ‘Betrayal’, Appoints New War Commander

Abubakar Shekau, factional head of Boko Haram has appointed Abu Muhammad as the new Amirul Jaysh (Commander of War).


Shekau announced the replacement after killing the former Commander, Abu Fatimah.

According to PRNigeria, Shekau personally shot and killed Abu Fatimah last week for allegedly betraying the sect.


An informant said that two other senior commanders were also eliminated by Shekau.


“Following an internal dispute, Shekau killed Abu Fatima, one other Commander and Amirul Fi’ya, a son to a renowned Bama businessman, Alhaji Modu Katakauma,” the source said.


Early this year, the Shura (consultation) Council of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) announced the appointment of Abu Dawud as new leader.

Dawud emerged after a coup which overthrew Amir Abba-Gana at Tumbum Kayowa.


Abba-Gana was elevated after the execution of Ba’a Idirisa on February 9, 2019. The deceased had succeeded Abu-Mossad Albarnawee.


Abba-Gana was sacked for installing Aliyu Chakkar as the ‘Governor of Lake Chad’. Chakkar replaced Goni Maina, an ex-ISWAP commander.


Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, have killed thousands and displaced millions in North-Eastern Nigeria.


The Nigerian military has repeatedly claimed that the insurgency had been largely defeated and frequently underplays any losses.


In the past months, soldiers have been targeted by the insurgents, who wait in ambush for them.


Hundreds of soldiers and officers have been reportedly killed since January 2021.


At least 33 soldiers were recently killed when two explosive-laden vehicles rammed into a military convoy in Wulgo.


The suicide bombers were identified as Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and Bana Jundullah. The group also claimed four military vehicles were destroyed.


In February, about 20 soldiers were also killed in Malari, Borno State by the insurgents.


SaharaReporters gathered that the soldiers were on patrol to clear some Boko Haram elements in the area following credible intelligence when they were ambushed by the group. Saharareporters 


Boko Haram leaders have left Nasarawa - Sule

Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule has explained that the security agencies deployed to the state by President Muhammadu Buhari have chased leaders of Boko Haram out of Nasarawa State.

He advised the people not to panic that Boko Haram has moved from Borno State to Nasarawa State.

Governor Sule stated this during an interactive session with reporters at the Government House, Lafia.

According to him, what happened was that, around 2016, a group of Darusalam that was sent out of Niger State didn’t find any other place to settle down than to settle in Nasarawa State.

“They came to Hutu in Toto Local Government Area, in a village where Bassa used to be, since Bassa is no longer there.

“They settled there and began sympathising with Boko Haram and they entered some kind of agreement and started paying allegiance to Boko Haram.

“Mr President came in strongly and supported the state and we had a joint operation of the Police, the Military, the Airforce, and the Navy that were able to dislodge them.
“Majority of their leaders have left Nasarawa State completely and returned to other states in the country,” he said. Thenationonlineng

Maiduguri: Blackout as Boko Haram destroys another electricity tower

Boko Haram insurgents on Saturday bombed two transmission towers in Maiduguri, Borno state capital. 

The attack comes about three days after the Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) announced that power has been restored in Maiduguri and other areas in the state.
The affected areas had been in darkness for two months following an attack by the insurgents on an electricity tower in January.

While the repairs were in progress, two Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) staff members sustained injuries on February 27, when their vehicle struck a landmine in Borno.

The team of engineers from the TCN and YEDC were on their way to a site in Minok where they were working to restore electricity in Maiduguri when the blast occurred.
The latest attack on the transmission line was said to have occurred at 5:56am on Saturday morning — after the insurgents planted explosives on each leg of the tower.

The attack affected T152 and T153 power tower on Maiduguri–Damaturu 330 kilovolts on the same line route of the previous incident. TheCableng

Ahmad Gumi: bandits not Boko Haram insurgents

An Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, on Monday said bandits are not Boko Haram insurgents but people pushed into crime by poverty.

Gumi warned that “we have to be very careful” in handling their case to prevent their being lured by Boko Haram.

He said that unlike Boko Haram insurgents with international connections and resources,  ”bandits are victims of circumstances.”

The clergy, who has for some months been in the eye of the storm for negotiating freedom of  persons kidnapped by bandits spoke during a television programme monitored in Lagos by The Nation.

Gumi said: “I can say categorically that  they are not Boko Haram but we have to be very careful because if the pressure is too much(on them), they can be lured by the Boko Haram. Boko Haram insurgents are more internationally connected and richer.

“If the pressure is too much, I am  afraid they can be influenced by Boko Haram and we have seen the signs that Boko Haram have gone to infiltrate them but so far, they are not Boko Haram. They are ready to lay down their arms.

“When I listened to them, I found out that it is a simple case of criminality that turned into banditry, which turned into ethnic war, and some genocide too behind the scene; people don’t know…There is no excuse for any crime; nothing can justify crime, and they are committing a crime.”

The herdsmen-bandits, he noted, were engaged in an ethnic war against other peoples, including sedentary Fulani.

Sheikh Gumi said: “I think it is a population that is pushed by circumstances into criminality. And this is what we should look for. Let’s remove the pressure, let’s remove the things that made them criminals because we have lived thousands of years without any problems with nomadic herdsmen. They are peaceful people. But something happened that led them to this.

“It is a complex issue that Nigerians need to understand. The solution is very simple, but it’s not military hardware. The solution is dialogue and teaching.

“These people are acting with natural instincts, not special knowledge. And they don’t have any ambition or anything. They don’t have a vision of the future. They are talking about existence; their livelihood is destroyed; because of the cattle rustling that was going on for a long time, they are the first victims of it.

“So we need to investigate how cattle rustling became a big business in Nigeria and how it affected the socio-cultural behaviour of the nomadic Fulani. They were pushed into criminality.” Thenationonlineng

Boko Haram: Terrorists burn down 140 houses in Borno

Over 140 houses reportedly razed by Boko Haram militants in Egiri, Zira 1 and 2 villages of Biu Local Government Area of Borno state in northeast Nigeria.

The militants carted away foodstuff and livestock, after displacing hundreds of people from the three settlements.

Biu is located in the southern flank of Borno about 187km from Maiduguri, the state capital.

Zira village where the incident took place is 5km away from Gur village which was attacked last Friday, leaving four persons dead.

Zira I and Gur community located North West of Buratai, the home town of the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, General T.Y Buratai, but poor telecommunication services delayed information from reaching people about the latest attacks.

A resident of Zira community, who fled and now taking refuge in Biu town, Ali Yusuf, told newsmen that, the attack happened on Sunday at about 7pm.

Yusuf said, “Luckily, almost all residents had fled out of the town, and the insurgents who came through Garin Mallam Village first attacked Egiri before proceeding to Zira I and II, as they wreck havoc without confrontation.”

Yusuf, however, said no life was lost as the insurgents met the all affected villages deserted, but notwithstanding, the attackers set ablaze about 20 houses in Egiri, 50 houses in Zira I and 75 others in Zira II.

“We are really terrified with the latest attacks by insurgents in our hitherto peaceful communities.

“Since the former Chief of Army Staff, General Yusuf Tukur Buratai bowed out of service; most surrounding villages of Buratai have been experiencing series of Boko Haram attacks without confrontation by security operatives.

“Just last Friday, armed insurgents invaded our neighbouring community of Gur and killed four persons and destroy properties. Two days after, another group of insurgents invaded our own villages of Egiri, Zira I & II and set ablaze over 90% of residential buildings.

“As it is, some of us took liver and went back to our affected communities on Monday, although, no life was lost as the insurgents met the affected villages deserted, but notwithstanding, the attackers set ablaze about 20 houses in Egiri, 50 houses in Zira I and 75 others in Zira II.

“We were lucky to have gotten information about the impeding attacks, so we quickly mobilized our family members including women and children and fled before the insurgents stormed these communities,” he said.

He appealed to government and other security agencies to come to their aid, as most of them are displaced with no means of livelihood.

Efforts to get confirmation from the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Edet Okon, did not yield any result. Dailypost


Boko Haram insurgency: Service Chiefs Arrive Maiduguri

The new Service Chiefs arrived Maiduguri on Sunday afternoon to meet critical stakeholders and brainstorm on strategies to end the protracted Boko Haram insurgency.

The Service Chiefs who were appointed few days ago by President Muhammadu Buhari were led on the visit by the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor.

They torched down at the headquarters of Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri on Sunday afternoon at about 1330 hours.

With the Chief of Defence were Chief of Army Staff, Maj. General Ibrahim Attahiru; Chief of Naval Staff, AVM Awwal Gambo and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao.

The Service Chiefs, who are expected to depart Maiduguri to Abuja Sunday evening, while in the troubled town will brainstorm with the military hierarchy in Borno State.

They will also pay courtesy call on the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum and the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Garbai El-Kanemi.



Repent and Covert to Islam – Boko Haram Shekau tells new CDS, Irabor

The factional leader of the Boko Haram insurgents, Sheikh Abubakar Ibn Al-shakawi popularly called Shekau, has said in a new audio message that, the new set of service chiefs will not do more than what their predecessor did in the fight against terrorism in the northeast Nigeria.

The Boko Haram spiritual leader, calls on the chief of defence staff, Lt General Lucky Irabor to have sympathy on himself, repent and convert to Islam.

Shekau, who spoke in about ten minutes, also called on the Chief of Army staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru that his conducts are un-islamic as such he is no longer regarded as a Muslim.

According to Shekau, there is going to be more terror attacks in the country, promising that, the high expectation placed on the new service chiefs will not amount to positive yields and soon Nigerians will know that the appointment of the new service chiefs amounts to nothing as to effect any changes in the operations of the insurgents in the northeast region.

Both the new Defence Chief, Lt General Lucky Irabor and the new Chief of Army staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru have served in Borno state as theatre commanders of the operation lafiya dole and have made impact during their stewardship.

Residents of the state have also expressed confidence that their return in high capacity will step up on the fight against insurgency in the region having operated in the state and know the terrain well.

But Abubakar Shekau has promised that, he will make a mess of their positions in the coming days if to proof a point about his operations in the northeast region. Dailypost


Africa: Boko Haram kill 5 soldiers, kidnap 35 civilians in two attacks

Five Nigerian soldiers were killed when Islamic State-aligned jihadists ambushed a military convoy and more than 30 civilians were also kidnapped in another attack, military sources said on Sunday.

The military convoy was hit in northeast Borno state on Saturday, and militants also attacked a transport convoy in the same region a day before, abducting 35 people and killing one woman.

Nigeria’s Boko Haram and a splinter group, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), have killed 36,000 people and displaced around two million as part of a decade-long conflict.

Saturday’s attack on the military convoy took place outside of Mafa, 44 kilometres (27 miles) north of the regional capital Maiduguri. 

“The terrorists fired an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) on the convoy which hit one of the vehicles with five soldiers in it,” one security source said.  

“All the five were killed.”

The insurgents seized two vehicles in the attack, said a second source who gave the same toll.  

ISWAP split from the mainstream Boko Haram six years ago and rose to become a dominant group.

The jihadist group focuses on military targets, raiding bases, ambushing troops and planting mines on the roads, but recently they have been attacking and abducting civilians. 

At least 35 people were kidnapped late Friday by ISWAP militants at a fake checkpoint in Garin Kuturu village outside Jakana, 25 kilometres from Maiduguri.

“The ISWAP terrorists who were dressed in military uniform stopped the vehicles… Some of the passengers fled into the bush while 35 were taken hostage,” a pro-government militia official said. 

A woman was shot dead and several others were injured when the militants opened fire on those fleeing into the bush, he said. 

Jakana, which lies along the 120-kilometre highway linking Maiduguri and Damaturu, the capital of neighbouring Yobe state, is an ISWAP stronghold.

Abductions of civilians by the jihadists in the area have been on the rise, prompting increased military deployments which have failed to end the abductions. AFP


Sources: Nigerian gangs kidnapped children on behalf of Boko Haram

Boko Haram recruited three local gangs in northwest Nigeria to kidnap hundreds of schoolboys on its behalf, security and local sources said Wednesday.

The jihadist group has claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, which targeted a secondary school in the town of Kankara, in Katsina state.

But sources told AFP the operation was carried out on Boko Haram's orders by a notorious local gangster called Awwalun Daudawa.

The 43-year-old worked in collaboration with Idi Minorti and Dankarami, two other crime chiefs with strong local followings, they said.

Criminal gangs, known as bandits, have terrorised communities in northwest Nigeria for years, and experts had recently warned of attempts by jihadists to forge an alliance with them.

Daudawa "was an armed robber and a cattle rustler before he turned to gun-running, bringing in weapons from Libya, where he had received training, and selling them to bandits," said a security source.

"Over time, he forged an alliance with Boko Haram and became their gunrunner, taking weapons the group seizes from the Nigerian security forces in raids and ambushes and selling them to bandits for a cut."

The source added: "Awwalun Daudawa was spotted in the forest in the Kankara area where he recently relocated and there were reports that he was planning something but it was not clear what it was."

Another source with intimate knowledge of "bandit" activities in Katsina and Zamfara states said: "From available information, Awwalun Daudawa was ordered by Abubakar Shekau to kidnap the schoolboys and he enlisted the help of Idi Minorti and Dankarami."

"After the children were taken, they went across the border into Zamfara state and split them among different gangs 'for safekeeping'. And some of the gangs have been in touch with the authorities for the release of the boys."

The attack occurred hundreds of kilometres (miles) from Boko Haram's stronghold in northeast Nigeria, where it launched a brutal insurgency a decade ago.

The jihadists made a claim of responsibility in a four-minute audio, sent to AFP through the same channel as previous messages from the group.

"I am Abubakar Shekau and our brothers are behind the kidnapping in Katsina," said the voice in the recording, resembling that of the elusive Boko Haram leader.


Shekau was behind the 2014 abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok that sparked global outrage, but another source said that the two incidents were not immediately comparable.

Another source with intimate knowledge of "bandit" activities in Katsina and Zamfara states said: "From available information, Awwalun Daudawa was ordered by Abubakar Shekau to kidnap the schoolboys and he enlisted the help of Idi Minorti and Dankarami."

"After the children were taken, they went across the border into Zamfara state and split them among different gangs 'for safekeeping'. And some of the gangs have been in touch with the authorities for the release of the boys."

The attack occurred hundreds of kilometres (miles) from Boko Haram's stronghold in northeast Nigeria, where it launched a brutal insurgency a decade ago.

The jihadists made a claim of responsibility in a four-minute audio, sent to AFP through the same channel as previous messages from the group.

"I am Abubakar Shekau and our brothers are behind the kidnapping in Katsina," said the voice in the recording, resembling that of the elusive Boko Haram leader.


Shekau was behind the 2014 abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok that sparked global outrage, but another source said that the two incidents were not immediately comparable.

"There is an ongoing peace pact between bandits and (the) Zamfara state government which the bandits don't want to breach. They have been under intense pressure to release the boys," the source said.

"This situation makes the Kankara abduction different from that of Chibok schoolgirls who were directly in the custody of Boko Haram. This time, the bandits who are keeping the children hold the ace, not Shekau."

The governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari, said late Monday that the abductors "have made contacts with the government."

"Talks are ongoing to ensure their safety and return to their respective families," he said on Twitter.

The government has not immediately reacted to Boko Haram's claim or confirmed its authenticity, and the number of missing students remains unclear -- 320 or 333, according to two accounts by officials, while locals in Kankara put it at more than 500. Theguardianng


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