MAIDUGURI/ABUJA (Dispatches) -- A group of fighters from Boko Haram in Nigeria pledged allegiance to the rival Daesh group weeks after the former group’s leader died, Reuters reported, citing a video.
The video fuels fears that ISWAP is consolidating control of the insurgency in northeastern Nigeria following the death of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau last month. But not all observers are convinced the video is proof that all Boko Haram fighters are ready to join ISWAP, the news agency said.
The groups engaged in a violent rivalry for years, and if ISWAP absorbs Boko Haram fighters, it could focus attention on attacking the Nigerian military.
Some 350,000 people have died as a result of the 12-year insurgency and subsequent humanitarian crisis, the United Nations said this week.
The video, produced by Daesh’s official media arm, showed clips of several hundred men, many of whom were armed, gathering in the bush. Several made statements to camera.
Vincent Foucher, a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research who is an expert on the conflict, said the video adds to evidence that ISWAP was gaining control. “It is one more indication that ISWAP has won,” he said.
Foucher said other indicators of ISWAP’s consolidation of power included its claims of attacks in areas that had been Boko Haram zones of influence and a significant drop in violence against civilians in areas where Boko Haram operated.
However, Bulama Bukarti, a senior analyst with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, dismissed the video as propaganda, noting that it did not feature senior Boko Haram leaders.
“I think Boko Haram is still very much divided and they will continue to fight each other,” Bukarti said.
An estimated 30 people died on Sunday when Somalia’s takfiri Al-Shabaab group launched an attack in a town in the country’s semi-autonomous state of Galmudug, a security official said.
The insurgents used car bombs in the assault on a military base in Galmudug’s Wisil town, located in central Somalia, triggering a fight with government troops and armed locals, Major Mohamed Awale, a military officer in Galmudug told Reuters.
Thirty people, including 17 soldiers and 13 civilians, died in the fighting, Awale said.
The Al-Qaeda-allied al Shabaab has been fighting in Somalia for more than a decade to try to topple the country’s central government and establish its own rule.