Nigerian Military claims Boko Haram fighters surrendered
ISIS is not the only Islamist group to grab territory and seek to set up a Muslim state. In Nigeria, oil rich and the most populace country in Africa, Boko Haram has been seizing towns in the northeast aggressively and declaring it “Muslim territory.”
But according to multiple reports, the Nigerian military has claimed a major group has surrendered. Reuters:
The army said 135 Boko Haram fighters had handed their weapons to troops on Tuesday in the northeast town of Biu, near the epicentre of Boko Haram's campaign to carve out an Islamist state.
The military added Boko Harma had also been trying to take over the town of Konduga, near the Cameroon border, from Sept. 12-17 but had been repelled by air and land forces.
"In the course of those encounters, one Mohammed Bashir, who has been acting or posing on videos as the deceased Abubakar Shekau ... known as leader of the group, died," said Defence spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade.
The BBC adds to the 135 another group alleged to have surrendered, for a total of 260.
More than 260 Islamist militants have surrendered in north-eastern Nigeria, the military has said.
Soldiers had also killed a man who featured in Boko Haram's propaganda videos pretending to be the group's leader Abubakar Shekau, it added.
Last year, the military said that Shekau may have been killed, without providing any proof.
Boko Haram has suffered heavy losses in recent weeks in battles in its stronghold of north-eastern Nigeria.
The military said that 135 Boko Haram members surrendered with their weapons in Biu, Borno state, on Tuesday - and that 133 others surrendered elsewhere in north-eastern Nigeria.
Deutsche Welle adds:
Defense spokesman Chris Olukolade told reporters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, that a man who had posed in videos as the late Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau had been killed during fighting in the town of Konduga, in Borno state.
Konduga lies just 35 kilometers (22 miles) away from the Boko Haram stronghold of Maiduguri.
The military claims that Shekau was killed in battle last year.
The man who had pretended to be Shekau in the group's videos was identified as Mohammed Bashir, but was said to have several aliases.
"It became apparent that the terrorists … were determined to take over communities around Maiduguri, which is their prime target," the military said in a statement, adding that Boko Haram had made four attempts to take Konduga between September 12 and 17.
Some caution is necessary, as the BBC’s Lagos correspondent Will Ross says that he claims are impossible to confirm at the moment. Still, if true, this would be the first time a Boko Haram group has surrendered, and that would be a major victory, potentially demoralizing other units of the group, and perhaps even Islamists elsewhere.
Americans are accustomed to bad news coming from Nigeria, but the country, for all its corruption, shows some hopeful signs of economic growth and even reform. If the military can respond effectively to Islamist insurgents, there is hope for a better future in this extremely importsnt (but little covered by American media) country.