Nigerian army says Boko Haram defeated; group’s disputed leader vows to fight on

ABUJA, Nigeria, Aug. 9 (UPI) — The Nigerian Army said it has defeated Boko Haram though the militant group’s leader, embroiled in a split in the group, said he will fight on.

Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, chief of Nigerian army staff, on Monday said the ability for Boko Haram to re-group in any part of Nigeria has been degraded. He said the group has failed to carry out attacks or suicide bombings in northeast Nigeria recently because it has been defeated.

During a visit to Nigeria’s Plateau state, Buratai said the conflict with Boko Haram will come to an end through the efforts of Nigeria’s Special Task Force and other security agencies.

“You can see that our efforts in the northeast has really paid off, as you can recall the incessant bombing of market places and different places of worships and populated areas has virtually stopped now,” Buratai said. “I can assure … the people of Plateau state that they will never witness Boko Haram attacks like you witnessed in the past.”

“The Nigerian army has not only succeeded in rooting them from their camps in the northeast, we have been able to block these criminal elements from crossing down to these areas or building their camp anywhere in Nigeria,” Buratai added.

Meanwhile, Abubakar Shekau — who said he remains the leader of Boko Haram despite contradicting claims — released a video in which he vowed to continue fighting.

“I … made it a duty for myself [to fight] Nigeria and the whole world,” Shekau said in the video released on Sunday in which he dismissed an Islamic State announcement that he was replaced by former Boko Haram spokesman Sheikh Abu Musab al-Barnawi.

He also dismissed indications that Boko Haram is undergoing a split and that he had died. He was last seen in March.

“We have no desire to fight our Muslim brethren,” Shekau said. “I’m alive by the permission of Allah.”

Shekau became leader of the group after its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed in 2009 — when the group first began its campaign of mass kidnappings, executions, suicide bombings and assaults on remote military bases and villages, killing thousands of Nigerians.

Last week, the Islamic State, to which Boko Haram has claimed allegiance, announced Yusuf’s son, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, is the new leader of the group

Boko Haram was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in 2013. The militant Islamic group seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria and has ruthlessly targeted civilians.

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