Boko Haram kills 44 in fresh Borno attack
•Shekau claims responsibility for recent assaults on military
Suspected Boko Haram Islamic insurgents killed 44 people at gunpoint while they were praying at a mosque in Konduga, Borno State, two security agents said on Monday.
The incident reportedly occurred on Sunday morning at a mosque in the Konduga town, some 35 kilometers outside Maiduguri, the state capital.
This is happening just as leader of the Boko Haram insurgents, Abubakar Shekau, claimed a series of recent deadly attacks on security forces in the North East, in a video obtained by AFP news agency on Monday.
A state security service agent and a member of a civilian vigilante group working with the military said on Monday they counted the bodies at the mosque after the Konduga attack.
A member of the civilian group, Usman Musa, said four of the vigilante members were also killed when they responded to calls for help.
Along the way from Maiduguri to Konduga, the civilian activists encountered “fierce resistance from heavily armed terrorists,” Musa said.
The security agent spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to reporters.
The Boko Haram group has gone after a range of targets, including Christians outside churches, teachers and school children and moderate Muslim clerics who have spoken out against extremism.
The Federal Government declared a state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states on May 14, to fight the Boko Haram uprising.
In the video obtained by AFP, Shekau insisted that he was in “good health” despite ongoing military offensive aimed at crushing his insurgent group.
“You have not killed Shekau,” he said in the video distributed through a local intermediary in a similar manner to previous Boko Haram messages.
Seated on a short stool with a kalashnikov rested on his right shoulder, Shekau said Boko Haram was “responsible” for several deadly raids over the past month.
These include attacks on the police and military in the towns of Malam Fatori and Bama, which sparked clashes that killed at least 35 people, according to the military.
The video contained what Shekau claimed was footage of Boko Haram gunmen opening fire on the military in Bama, using heavy weapons mounted on flat-bed trucks.
Shekau also referred to fighting in the towns of Baga and Gamboru Ngala near the border with Cameroon.
The Boko Haram leader has been declared a global terrorist by the United States, which in March put a $7 million bounty on his head.
“I’m challenging Obama,” Shekau said in the video.
He voiced similar challenges to French President Francois Hollande and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“They are no match for me,” he proclaimed.
Boko Haram is believed to be made up of different factions, with Shekau leading the most radical Islamist cell.
He has ruled out any dialogue with the Federal Government, saying he was fighting to create an Islamic state in the North.
Boko Haram’s four-year insurgency is estimated to have claimed more than 3,600 lives since 2009, including killings by the security forces.
Efforts to get Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, to react to the story did not yield fruit, as several calls and SMS to his cell phone did not go through up to press time last night.