The militants, dressed in military uniforms, raided
the village of Sabon Garin Kimba, in the restive Borno State.
They had reached the village in a pick-up truck displaying Nigerian
army colours, civilian militia assisting troops told news agency AFP.
The militants belonged to the faction loyal to former Boko Haram’s
spokesperson Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who was appointed as new leader by
Boko Haram’s ally, the Isis terror group, in 2016.
The appointment created friction within Boko Haram. There are now at
least three factions loyal to different leaders, including Abubakar
Shekau, who has been controlling the group since 2009.
Unlike previous Boko Haram attacks, the latest raid did not result in
casualties, suggesting Barnawi’s faction operates differently from
Shekau’s one.
“They kept telling residents they were from the Barnawi faction and
would not harm anyone as long as no one got in their way,” a member of
the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) militia said.
Following his appointment last year, Barnawi criticised Shekau for,
among other things, killing Muslims and allowing the use of children
in suicide bombing missions.
Boko Haram used to control territories the size of Belgium.
However, Nigeria’s ongoing military operation, Lafiya Dole, and a
regional offensive – consisting of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger,
Chad, Cameroon and Benin – have scored some success, with soldiers
recapturing key territories and releasing thousands of civilians held
captive by the group.
Last December, the army claimed it had stormed Boko Haram’s last known
stronghold in Sambisa Forest, in Borno State.
However, Shekau repeatedly denied claims the group had been defeated.
Security analysts have pointed out that declaring a victory over the
group is premature, given that Boko Haram is still able to carry out
attacks and recruit people.
Experts also warned that underlying issues such as disenfranchisement,
poverty and strong links with Isis would continue to pose major
threats to stability in the region.

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