Boko Haram

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Third militant attack on Nigeria's army in a week

Ishaq Khalid

BBC Africa, Abuja

Map showing Damasak
BBC

The Nigerian army says Boko Haram fighters have attacked a military base in the north-east of the country.

Reports say the heavily armed militants, driving in trucks mounted with guns, stormed the military location in the town of Damasak in Borno state on Wednesday evening.

The troops then responded, prompting an exchange of fire, which lasted for several hours.

There are no details about casualties.

This attack is the third major action by the militants in just a week.

A Boko Haram faction known as the Islamic State's West Africa Province (Iswap) had said its fighters killed several Nigerian soldiers in the two previous attacks.

The two factions of Boko Haram have stepped up attacks mainly on military targets, seizing weapons and inflicting heavy casualties on the army in recent months.

There are growing concerns over security as Nigeria prepares for general elections next February.

Boko Haram joined Islamic State in 2015 adopting the name Islamic State in West Africa Province.

But a faction of Boko Haram pulled out from the alliance in 2016 following a leadership crisis.

Nigeria overhauls leadership in Boko Haram fight

Mayeni Jones

BBC News, Lagos

Nigeria's army has announced a major overhaul of its leadership in the fight against Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.

The move comes after a wave of attacks against military convoys and barracks in recent weeks.

The most significant appointment is that of Maj Gen AM Dikko who has been made the new commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the military’s initiative to defeat the militant group.

He is the fourth commander of the task force in a little over a year.

In a statement, an army spokesperson said the appointment of Gen Dikko was to inject new blood to "further actualise the vision of the Chief of Army Staff".

But it comes shortly after a series of attacks by Boko Haram militants on the army, including on a barrack in Yobe state where dozens of soldiers are believed to have been killed.

The army denies it suffered any casualties in the attack.

Major General Rogers Nicholas (C) flanked by state officials,
AFP
Gen Dikko replaces Maj Gen Rogers Nicholas
Abubakar Shekau

The disputed leader of Boko Haram says he is still in charge of Nigeria's militant Islamist group despite a statement by so-called Islamic State that he had been replaced.

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Boko Haram leader's mother laments his 'very bad' behaviour

Abubakar Shekau
AFP
Abubakar Shekau, pictured here in 2014, is the leader of the Nigerian militant Islamist group

The mother of Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau has spoken out, telling Voice of America that her son has "brought many problems to many people" and that she hasn't seen him in 15 years.

"I am praying for God to show him the good way," she told the broadcaster.

Falmata Abubakar added:

Yes, he’s my son and every mother loves her son, but we have different characters. He brought a lot of problem to many people.

He just took his own character and went away. This is not the character I gave him. I don’t know what this type of behavior is. It’s only God who knows.

Where can I meet him to tell him that these things he is doing is very bad?"

Boko Haram launched an insurgency against the Nigerian government in 2009 with the aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate in West Africa.

Mostly focused in north-eastern Nigeria, the conflict has reportedly left around 20,000 dead and displaced at least two million.

Led by Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS) in March 2015.

In August 2016, the group apparently split, with an IS video announcing that Mr Shekau had been replaced with Abu Musab al-Barnawi, believed to be a son of Boko Haram's founder.

Mr Shekau disputed this, insisting he was still in charge.

“I don’t now if he’s alive or dead," says his mother, Falmata. "It’s only God who knows."

Suicide bombers kill nine in Niger

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

map
BBC

At least nine people have been killed and several more wounded in three suicide bombings in the city of Diffa in the south-east of Niger, close to the border with Nigeria.

Two of the suicide bombers were young women and the targets included an Islamic school.

Although no group has yet said it carried out the attacks, militant Islamist group Boko Haram has frequently targeted Diffa.

The area had, however, been relatively calm for several months until the bombings late on Monday evening.