Boko Haram Leader Claims Gwoza In New Video

Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, has announced that he has created an Islamic caliphate in a city seized by the insurgents earlier this month in Borno State, northeastern Nigeria. According to a 52-minute video AFP obtained on Sunday, 24 August, 2014, the Islamist group leader said: “Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in (the town of) Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate.” After Shekau’s 25-minute speech, the video shows militant fighters on pick-up trucks firing rocket-propelled grenades and other heavily armed insurgents firing weapons as they walk calmly along the road. The footage appears to show them taking over a military base, stealing weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition as well as fuel cans. In one frame, a fighter stands on top of a tank, waving the Islamists’ black flag. The end of the video apparently depicts scenes of grisly executions, similar to those released by Islamic State (IS) in Iraq in recent weeks. Boko Haram have used similar tactics before, however. In one scene, about 20 men in civilian clothing are shown with their hands tied behind their backs and lying by the roadside before they are shot at close range. A second shows two men, whom Shekau said disguised themselves as women to escape the town, beaten to death with shovels. Two others similarly dressed are shot beside what appears to be a trench full of bodies. Shekau is pictured standing in front of three SUVs and flanked by four fighters, who are masked and armed. It is not clear when or where the video was filmed. There was no indication that Shekau was actually in Gwoza for the filming and his whereabouts remain unknown but another unidentified fighter who speaks later in the video vowed that Boko Haram would keep control of the area. Shekau, who was blacklisted by the the United Nations in July , declared that Gwoza, in Borno state, now has “nothing to do with Nigeria”. “By the grace of Allah we will not leave the town. We have come to stay,” Shekau added. The United Nations humanitarian office confirmed in a report some weeks ago that Gwoza was under rebel control. Boko Haram is also believed to be in control of other areas near Gwoza in southern Borno , as well as large swathes of territory in northern Borno and at least one town in neighbouring Yobe state. Mapping the precise areas which have fallen into Islamist hands is nearly impossible. There are few humanitarian workers on the ground in the northeast, travel is dangerous and the region, which has been under a state of emergency since May of last year, has poor mobile phone coverage. Experts have described Boko Haram’s gains in recent weeks as unprecedented, saying the group was closer than ever to achieving its goal of carving out a strict Islamic state across northern Nigeria. But many analysts believe the military has the capacity to reverse the insurgents’ advance. It would be recalled that some Nigerian soldiers last week refused to be deployed to Gwoza without better weapons in an apparent mutiny. The Boko Haram is believed to have killed thousands of innocent people since it intensified its insurgency in 2009.

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