The head of Boko Haram Islamists said he supported a July 6 attack on a school that killed 42 people, but did not claim responsibility for the massacre, in a video obtained by AFP Saturday. “We fully support the attack on this
Western education school in
Mamudo,” in northern Yobe state,
Abubakar Shekau said in the 10-
minute video speech.
The mostly Hausa language message shows Shekau, designated a global
terrorist by the United States, kneeling
on mat with a Kalashnikov resting on
his left shoulder.
He speaks in English for several
seconds towards the end of the video, something he has not done in recent
public messages.
The early morning gun and bomb
attack at a boarding school in the
Mamudo district of Yobe saw
assailants round up students and staff in a dormitory before throwing
explosives inside and opening fire,
according to witnesses.
Almost all of those killed were
students. It was the third school attack
in recent weeks and the second in Yobe.
On June 16, gunmen opened fire on a
secondary school in Damaturu,
Yobe’s capital, killing seven students
and two teachers.
Shekau voiced similar support the Damaturu attack, describing all
“Western education schools” as a
“plot against Islam”.
He however stopped short of claiming
to have ordered the killings.
“We don’t attack students,” he said in the video that was delivered to AFP in
a manner consistent with previous
statements from the Islamist leader.
Roughly translated, Boko Haram
means “Western education is sin,” and
the insurgents have been blamed for previous raids on schools, with some
analysts suggesting the group has
selected shocking targets to generate
attention.
Yobe state was one of three areas
placed under a state of emergency in May ahead of a sweeping military
offensive against Boko Haram.
The military has claimed significant
gains in the two-month-old offensive,
but such boasts have been difficult to
verify and Boko Haram attacks have continued in some places.
Shekau, in the message, also denied
reports that the Islamist extremists
had entered into ceasefire
negotiations with the government.
This week, a federal cabinet minister and head of a panel tasked with
talking to the insurgents claimed he
was negotiating with a legitimate
Shekau deputy and that a ceasefire
deal was at hand.
“The claim that we have entered into a truce with the government of Nigeria
is not true,” the wanted Islamist leader
said.
Nigeria’s Minister for Special Duties
Kabiru Tanimu Turaki told journalists
that he was negotiating with Shekau’s “second in command”, and reports of
a looming ceasefire filled the front
pages of Nigeria’s newspapers.
“We don’t know Kabiru Turaki. We
have never spoken with him. He is
lying,” Shekau said. Nigeria’s government and military
have regularly been accused of
spreading false information regarding
the insurgency.
Boko Haram has said it is fighting to
create an Islamic state in Nigeria and Shekau restated the demand for a
nation governed by sharia (Islamic
law) in his latest message.
Last month the United States placed a $
7.0 million (5.3 million euros) bounty
on Shekau. He is believed to be the leader of Boko
Haram’s hardline Islamist faction, but
most analysts believe the group is
made up of various camps.
The insurgency has cost 3,600 lives
since 2009, including killings by the security services.
Nigeria’s is Africa’s most populous
country and top oil producer, where
acute poverty remains rampant
despite the massive oil wealth.
Local and Western analysts have long argued that improving living
conditions in the mainly Muslim north
is key to curbing the insurgency.

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