Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dueling claims about Boko Haram stronghold - either Sambisa forest was captured or it wasn't

From Reuters last week:
A man purporting to be the leader of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, denied the jihadist group has been pushed out of its stronghold in the Sambisa forest, but the army said the base had been captured.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday said Boko Haram's last enclave in the forest, a former game reserve in northeastern Nigeria, had been captured in the "final crushing" of the group.
Reuters has been unable to independently verify that the area was captured.
"We are safe. We have not been flushed out of anywhere," the man identifying himself as Shekau said in a video ... "If you indeed crushed us, how can you see me like this? How many times have you killed us in your bogus death?" ...
Nigeria's military has in recent years said it has killed or wounded Shekau on multiple occasions. 
Such statements have often swiftly been followed by video denials by someone who says he is Shekau, but poor footage makes it hard to confirm if the person is the same man as in previous videos. ...
Here's some evidence from Niger that might support the Nigerian government's claims:
Dozens of Boko Haram fighters have given themselves up to authorities in southern Niger, the interior minister said, days after the Islamist group suffered key losses over the border in Nigeria.
Although the Sambisa forest isn't very close to the Niger border, so maybe the events are unrelated (see map).

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