|Boko Haram pledges allegiance to the Islamic State|
|[Daily Maverick] After months of teasing, Boko Haram has finally pledged allegiance to the Islamic State; an unholy alliance that, in theory, makes both sides bigger, badder and more brutal than ever before. But what if the theory is wrong? What if this is a sign of weakness, not strength?|
Boko Haram won't appreciate the analogy, but it fits: like a stripper tantalising her way towards the big reveal, the Nigerian militants have been teasing this one for months. There was the talk last year of joining a caliphate; the sudden change of tactics to emulate the Islamic State's successes; and, recently, the none-too-subtle flirting on Twitter.
So the announcement, when it came, was no surprise -- but no less momentous for it. Abubakar Shekau, in an audio message, confirmed that he as boko haram leader had pledged bayat -- allegiance -- to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Emir of the Islamic State and self-declared Caliph.
More than likely a desperate move by BH. They've been taken on by a consortium of private security personnel in league with the host government. Mineral rights must be protected.
Related article, book review.
|Boko Haram kill 40 in Diffa, southeast Niger|
|[AA.TR] At least 40 people were killed and several others injured Wednesday night when suspected attacked Niger's southeast Diffa region, according to sources in the regional military alliance, the Multi National Joint Task Force.|
"In yet another daring cross border attack on Wednesday, the attacked two border villages in Diffa region," a Nigerian military officer serving in the alliance told Anadolu Agency.
"They used s in the attack, followed by sporadic gunshots," he said on condition of anonymity, as he had no authority to speak to the media.
A member of a local Nigerian vigilante group in Bosso, a Nigerian border town only a few kilometers away from the Diffa region, confirmed the attack.
"The attack appeared to be some sort of tit-for-tat because just yesterday the Chadian army bombed some Nigerian villages, obviously in retaliation for some s on its towns two days ago," Audu Alaram, a member of the local vigilante group, told Anadolu Agency by phone from Bosso.
"Yesterday night, the led two bombers and struck in the Diffa region attack and killed close to 40 people, according to information from the military," he said.
Boko Haram had until recently restricted its violent campaign to Nigerian towns.
Following complaints by Nigeria that were hiding in neighboring countries from which they launched cross border raids, the soon faced mounting pressure from troops from neighboring armies who pushed them back.
This has apparently led to recent attacks on villages in , Chad and Niger - all of which have recently joined forces with Nigeria to crush the group.
In video footage released early this year, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau warned leaders of neighboring countries not to help Nigeria in the fight against the group, threatening attacks on their soil if they supported the Nigerian government.
Analysts suggest that Boko Haram's recent pledge of allegiance to Daesh, which saw the Nigerian group change its name to in the West Africa Province, could be at the roots of its recent cross border raids across the region.
|23 Dead in Suicide Bomb Attacks on Chad Police|
|[AnNahar] Twenty-three people were killed on Monday in s targeting police in the Chadian capital that the government said was the work of s.|
They were the first such attacks in the capital of the central African nation, which has been on the frontline of the regional fight against the Nigerian Islamist group.
"Boko Haram chose the wrong target. These lawless and faithless will be flushed out and neutralized wherever they are," the government said in a statement.
It said 23 people were killed and another 101 in the simultaneous bombings outside the police headquarters and police academy in N'Djamena.
It said four "terrorists" were also killed, but did not give details. Earlier, a police official had told AFP that two s carried out the attacks, which came as police cadets were attending a training course at the academy.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The government said the situation was quickly brought under control, but the unprecedented assault on the capital prompted the creation of a "crisis cell" and vehicles with darkened windows were banned from N'Djamena.
Large numbers of members of Chad's security forces were also seen taking up positions on the streets.
President Idriss Deby was expected to return home during the day from an summit in Johannesburg, an official said.
In his absence, government ministers held a crisis meeting to discuss the bombings.
The former French colony is part of a four-nation coalition also including Nigeria, and Niger that was created to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency after the group stepped up cross-border attacks.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has on several occasions threatened to attack Chad and other countries in the coalition.
condemned Monday's blasts, with a foreign ministry saying "stands alongside Chad and its partners in the fight against terrorism".
Chad is a close ally of in its counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane in five countries in the and the French army has set up its headquarters for the campaign in N'Djamena.
Last week, Abuja hosted a summit where Nigeria and fellow coalition members plus Benin rubber-stamped an 8,700-strong regional force to replace the current four-nation grouping.
The long-awaited Multi-National Joint Task Force, which had originally been due to become operational in November, has its headquarters in N'Djamena, under a senior Nigerian officer.
|More Cooperation Needed against Boko Haram, Says Chad|
|[AnNahar] Chad's President Idriss Deby has called for better coordination between coalition forces fighting in , warning that the group has been but not defeated.|
"If we still have to fight and catch (Boko Haram leader) Abubakar Shekau, the armies have to work together," Deby said on a visit to Nigeria's capital Abuja on Monday to meet outgoing President .
"Boko Haram has been broken but isn't finished," he told s. "Our weak point is we haven't been able to coordinate operations on the ground."
Nigeria's army has been assisted by the militaries in Chad, Niger and since early February, which has led to a series of successes against the in the restive region.
Nigeria-based Boko Haram has led a six-year Islamist insurgency that has killed some 15,000 people and displaced about 1.5 million.
Towns and territory captured by the Islamists have been retaken and a major offensive has been under way for weeks in the group's Sambisa Forest stronghold in Nigeria's Borno state.
But Chad and Niger especially have complained that the Nigerian military has not stepped in to take over security after towns in border regions have been recaptured by their soldiers.
There have also been reports of Abuja wanting the neighboring armies to withdraw from its territory, allowing in some cases the to regroup and come back in to liberated areas.
Deby, who has previously bemoaned the apparent lack of a joined-up approach, said Shekau had exploited the situation, allowing him to remain free from capture.
"If there had been better cooperation, Shekau would have been wiped out with all his commanders," the president added.
According to Chad, some 5,000 of its soldiers have been involved in the counter-insurgency and 71 have .
Just before Nigeria's presidential election, which Jonathan lost to former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, Deby publicly criticized the president's approach to the security crisis.
On Monday, however, he congratulated Jonathan as a "great democrat" and "Pan-Africanist" for having contributed to the stability and peace of the region by conceding defeat to Buhari.
"When Nigeria coughs, all neighboring countries catch a cold," Deby added.
Deby also met Buhari on his visit but no details were disclosed about their discussions.
|Where is Abubakar Shekau?|
|[PULSE.NG] Abubakar Shekau is nowhere to be found.|
The leader was last heard from in March 2015 when he pledged allegiance to the terror group (ISIS) via an audio statement.
Since then he has practically gone underground and even failed to make a statement during Nigeria's recently concluded elections, which he vowed to disrupt.
Prior to this time, it was believed that Shekau had taken refuge in the group's notorious stronghold, Sambisa Forest.
intensive military operations in the forest, which led to the rescue of about 1000 , have failed to provide any clue as to the Boko Haram leader's whereabouts.
None of the captives freed from the sect has testified to seeing Shekau and the only ones who spoke of him told that the frequently threatened to take them to the terrorist boss in his abode deep in the forest.
The Boko Haram leader was recently named as one of TIME's most influential 100 people in the world; a development to which he would ordinarily have responded by mocking world leaders.
Shekau remained unusually silent and is still maintaining that silence to the confusion and bewilderment of many.
A Nigerian military source on Thursday, April 23, told Vanguard of his frustration at the elusiveness of the Boko Haram leader.
"The guy simply disappeared from the radar and suddenly vanished. We wish we can catch him alive," the source, who chose to remain anonymous, said.
Another report, by the Daily Sun, has it that Shekau might have fled the country.
"Having discovered that he was being tracked through his Thuraya satellite phone, Shekau recently dropped the line and handset totally to evade capture. But the last satellite image of him and other intelligence pieced together by forces on the battle frontline show his desperation to escape from the country to parts of East Africa or North Africa where ISIS is having some footholds," the Sun quotes a military source as saying.
The source also added that Shekau had changed his appearance in order to evade capture.
The Boko Haram leader was last seen in public in 2009 and since then, the Nigerian Army has claimed to have killed him many times.
Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade has said that finding Shekau is not the army's priority.
"The sensational idea of looking out for one individual should not distract us or hold us down," Olukolade told .
The US, however, does not share the same sentiments as it has maintained a $7 million (N1.4 billion) bounty placed on Shekau and lists him among 71 most wanted in the world.
Many have speculated that the real Shekau might in fact be dead and the person who appears on the videos is just a double.
whether he is real or fake, many around the world will only heave a sigh of relief when the mystery behind Abubakar Shekau is finally unravelled.
|Nigerian Army Rescues 200 Girls, 93 Women|
|[TheAge.au] Nigeria's military is claiming the rescue of 200 girls and 93 women from a notorious Boko Haram stronghold, but the hostages are not those kidnapped from Chibok a year ago.|
"Troops have captured & destroyed three camps of terrorists inside the Sambisa forest & rescued 200 girls & 93 women," defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a text message, referring to the area in northeast Borno state where the Islamists have bases.
Following news of the rescue, Colonel Sani Usman sought to clarify that the rescued hostages were not the same group of girls whose plight unchained the #BringBackOurGirls global campaign.
"They were not, however, from Chibok, the village from which more than 200 girls were abducted in April 2014," he told Reuters in a text message.
Boko Haram claimed the abduction of 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, also in Borno, on April 14 last year. Fifty-seven girls escaped within hours of the attack but 219 remained in captivity. At the anniversary of their abduction, Nigeria's president-elect Muhammadu Buhari admitted it may never be possible to find the group.
In the weeks following the mass abduction, Nigerian security sources and locals in Borno said there were indications the girls had been taken to the Sambisa Forest. But defence officials and experts agreed that they were likely separated over the last 13 months, casting significant doubt on the possibility that they were being held together as a group.
Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, vowed to "marry them off" or sell them as "slaves."
The Chibok attack brought unprecedented world attention to the Nigeria's Islamist uprising. Celebrities and prominent personalities including US First Lady Michelle Obama joined the Twitter campaign #BringBackOurGirls that attracted supporters worldwide. Pakistani activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai voiced a heartfelt letter to the missing girls earlier this month.
But Boko Haram has also been blamed for hundreds of other kidnappings, especially targeting women and girls across northeast Nigeria. There is no indication of when the freed hostages were first taken.
The rescued girls and women will be screened on Wednesday to determine whether they had been abducted or if they were married to the militants, one intelligence source told Reuters.
"Now they are excited about their freedom," he said. "Tomorrow there will be screenings to determine whether they are Boko Haram wives, whether they are from Chibok, how long they have been in the camps, and if they have children."
Some of the girls were injured, and some of the militants killed, he said without giving more details.
The group was rescued from camps "discovered near or on the way to Sambisa," one army official said.
Nigerian forces backed by warplanes invaded the vast former colonial game reserve late last week as part of a push to win back territory from Boko Haram.
The group, notorious for violence against civilians, controlled an area roughly the size of Belgium at the start of the year but has since been beaten back by Nigerian troops, backed by Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
A military source who was in Sambisa told The Associated Press that some of the women rescued Tuesday fought back, and that Boko Haram was using armed women as human shields, putting them as their first line of defense.
The Nigerian troops managed to subdue them and rounded them all up, and some said they were forced to fight for Boko Haram, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Boko Haram also has used girls and women as suicide bombers, sending them into crowded market places and elsewhere.
|Boko Haram: Troops take over Alagarno, dislodge sect|
|[Nigerian Tribune] BOKO Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, may have been on the run as troops from the Seventh Division of the Nigerian Army have killed dozens of in Alagarno village and neighboring communities in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State.|
The development was recorded in a battle that lasted for over 48 hours, according to locals who fled the area to Maiduguri, the state capital.
|Suspected Boko Haram Gunmen Kill Seven as Nigerians Vote|
|[AnNahar] At least seven people were killed in separate attacks in the n state of Gombe on Saturday as the country held presidential elections, with suspected opening fire on voters at polling stations.|
The first attacks happened in the neighboring villages of Birin Bolawa and Birin Fulani in the Nafada district of Gombe, which has been repeatedly targeted by the Islamists.
An election official, who requested anonymity, said: "We could hear the shouting, 'Didn't we warn you about staying away from (the) election?'"
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video message last month that the would disrupt Saturday's general election, which they see as "un-Islamic".
The threat and a spate of s and bombings against "soft" targets in restive northern Nigeria have prompted the authorities to impose tight security across the country.
The election official said the masked arrived in Birin Bolawa in a pickup truck at about 8:30 am (0730 GMT), just after accreditation for Saturday's presidential election had begun.
One voter was and others fled in panic.
"They set fire to all the election materials we abandoned as we escaped," he added.
Karim Jauro, a resident of Birin Fulani said the second attack happened at about 9:15 am, adding that had they known about the earlier shooting they would have abandoned the polling station.
"As soon as people saw them they began to run away but the opened fire on the polling station, killing one man," he said.
"They burnt the election materials. We strongly believe they are Boko Haram who have been warning people not to participate in the elections."
Gunmen then stormed the town of Dukku, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the state capital Gombe city, at about 11:30, shooting randomly as voters queued up at polling stations, residents said.
"They three people and injured two others," said Ibrahim Ahmad, adding that the attackers then killed a state assembly and the local chief in the nearby herding village of Tilen.
Bala Akilu, another resident who witnessed the shooting in Dukku, supported Ahmad's account.
"The shooting disrupted accreditation but later some polling stations reopened after the had left," he added.
"But others remained shut because voters had gone and were too afraid to return."
Nigeria's presidential election had been due to be held on February 14 but security concerns forced the country's electoral commission to postpone it just a week before the scheduled vote.
IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center said there were 28 Boko Haram attacks in the three weeks after the delay was announced compared with 18 in the three weeks beforehand -- a 56 percent rise.
There was also an increase in attacks in the six weeks after a crackdown against the began by Nigeria and coalition partners Niger, Chad and "We also saw a 20 percent increase in the number of suicide attacks in this period," Matthew Henman, head of the center, said on Saturday.
|Nigeria Recaptures Gwoza from Boko Haram|
|[AnNahar] Nigeria's military on Friday announced that troops had retaken the town of Gwoza from , from which the group declared their caliphate last year.|
"Troops this morning captured Gwoza destroying the Headquarters of the Terrorists self-styled Caliphate," Defense Headquarters in Abuja said on Twitter.
"Several died while many are captured. Mopping up of entire Gwoza and her suburbs is ongoing," it added in a separate message.
Earlier this month, residents who fled the town in Borno state told Agence Presse that had been massing in Gwoza and killing local people who were unable to flee.
That led to speculation that the group, which has been pushed out of a number of towns in three northeast states in recent weeks, was preparing for a final assault.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau declared on August 24 last year that Gwoza was "part of the Islamic caliphate", adding to speculation the were imitating the group.
- 'Final onslaught' -
Shekau had the previous month praised IS leader but stopped short of pledging allegiance. He has since formally allied himself to the group in Syria and Iraq.
Nigeria's national security Mike Omeri said last week that troops had begun the "final onslaught" against Boko Haram, saying Gwoza was one of three areas yet to be retaken.
A four-nation coalition of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and has claimed a number of successes since the turn of the year to end the insurgency which has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2009.
The ongoing operation was cited as a reason to delay Nigeria's general election on February 14 to this Saturday, as soldiers would not be able to provide security nationwide.
In a televised address broadcast on Friday, President hailed troops for having "successfully stemmed the seizure of Nigerian territories".
"I heartily commend the very courageous men and women of our Armed Forces for the immense sacrifices which they continue to make in defending the nation and protecting its citizens," he added.
But Chad's President Idriss Deby accused Nigeria of failing to cooperate with the regional coalition battling the jihadists, saying there had been zero contact between their armies.
"The whole world is asking why the Nigerian army, which is a big army... is not in a position to stand up to untrained kids armed with Kalashnikovs," Deby told French magazine Le Point, in an interview published this week.
|Boko Haram Leader 'Ordered Women to be Killed' in Gwoza|
|[AnNahar] Abubakar Shekau directly ordered women to be killed in the n town of Gwoza, one man who was forcibly conscripted into the ranks claimed on Friday. leader |
Usman Ali said he witnessed the killing in the town, which the group's elusive leader proclaimed as part of a caliphate last year and which has generally been seen as the s' headquarters.
Another local man, Haruna Abubakar, also confirmed the massacre in the Borno state town but neither was able to say how many women were killed.
There has also been speculation that the 219 kidnapped schoolgirls from Chibok who have been held by Boko Haram since last April were in Gwoza but both said there was no sign of them.
Nigeria's military said on Friday that troops had recaptured Gwoza, the latest claimed success in a regional offensive involving Chad, Niger and There has been increasing evidence that Boko Haram has committed atrocities as the coalition regains ground.
Residents who fled the town of Bama, also in Borno state, earlier this month, also reported that dozens of women forced into marriage with Boko Haram fighters were killed.
- 'We had no choice' -
Ali, a 35-year-old farmer, said the rebels came to his village of Kilekasa, 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Gwoza and about 15 kilometers from Chibok late on Friday March 13.
In the convoy of about 46 all-terrain pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns were two armored vehicles, he said, adding: "Shekau drove in a black Toyota jeep."
Shekau was taken to the village of Huyum about five kilometers away and the following morning all residents of Kilekasa were assembled and able-bodied men were given guns.
"We had no choice," he told Agence -Presse, adding that one man who tried to flee was executed in front of them.
"On Sunday March 15, Shekau assembled his men including us, the new recruits, and addressed us. He said they should go back to Gwoza and kill all of their women they left behind.
"He said if they didn't kill them they would not join them in paradise. They took us along to Gwoza where we witnessed the carnage.
"They gathered the women who were in large number and opened fire on them.
"One of the women who was heavily pregnant asked to be spared until she delivered her baby but her request was turned down."
- Chibok girls -
Ali said he returned to Kilekasa later that day and fled at nightfall to Yola, the capital of neighboring Adamawa state.
"I don't know what has been the fate of the people in the village. When we went to Gwoza we didn't see any sign of the girls from Chibok. They must have been moved to another place," he added.
Abubakar, who fled Gwoza to a camp for internally displaced people in Yola, said his aunt left the town on March 16.
"She told me that Boko Haram moved out of the town three days earlier at night in several vehicles. They returned on Sunday and killed their wives, some of them pregnant," he said.
"They gathered them in one place and shot them dead. She said there were no Boko Haram when she left Gwoza. She didn't know where they moved to.
"When I asked her about the whereabouts of the Chibok girls she told me they were not in Gwoza."
|Boko Haram: 'Shekau is alive, he still preaches in Gwoza' -- Female escapee|
|[DAILYPOST.NG] A woman who recently Abubakar Shekau, is still alive. captivity in Gwoza town of Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State has said the sect leader, |
She told newsmen in Maiduguri yesterday that Shekau, " is alive and healthy" and often preaches in Gwoza township.
According to the woman, before their escape from the den of the terrorists, they witnessed the killings of 75 elders of Gwoza, including her father in-law, who were hanged and their bodies left on the streets of Gwoza.
"My husband is alive, he had run away since the early days of the invasion and he is currently here in Maiduguri.
"We were captured since then by the Boko Haram and have remained in their custody for more than three months before now.
"When we escaped, we travelled by night in the bushes until we arrived at Michika.
"Those who us at Michika said we were Boko Haram's wives, but we pleaded and having proven our innocence, they kept us for days until when the former governor of Adamawa State, Mr Boni Haruna, came to Michika.
"It was he who offered to help us with food and medication. When we regained our strength, he asked us many questions.
"It was during the questioning that I mentioned my husband brother's name who is living in Adamawa and they sent for him. After he had identified me, they released me to him, before I later came to Maiduguri to unite with my family," she said.
|Regional forces retake Nigerian town from Boko Haram|
|[Iran Press TV] Troops from Chad and Niger have managed to liberate a Nigerian town from the terrorists, as the regional alliance against the group continues its advances in western Africa.|
Around 200 of the Boko Haram terrorist group were reported killed on Monday in the operation which saw the Nigerian town of Damask liberated.
A Chadian security source said three Chadian soldiers were killed and 20 others in the offensive which began Sunday as part of a regional effort to purge Nigeria of the Takfiri s.
Officials in Niger also confirmed the recapture of the town, which had been under Boko Haram's control over the past four months.
The heavy fighting comes as the Takfiri group, which has been wreaking havoc in Nigeria for the past six years, recently pledged allegiance to the ISIL operating in Iraq and Syria.
In an audio message last week, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau (pictured above), voiced his support for ISIL's cruel massacre of the innocent people in the two Arab countries.