Nigeria’s military on Thursday dismissed as “empty propaganda” claims by Boko Haram’s leader that soldiers have retreated during an ongoing offensive, insisting the campaign has heavily damaged the Islamist insurgents.
In a video released on Tuesday, Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau said soldiers have at times “turned and ran” when facing Islamist fighters and rejected military boasting about the success of the operation.
“We consider it as empty propoganda,” defence spokesman Brigadier General Chris Olukolade said of the video.
“To the best of our understanding, at the moment (the insurgents) are in disarray. They are on the run and so many of them have been captured,” he noted.
He declined to provide figures of those captured or killed in the operation launched on May 15 after President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states considered Boko Haram strongholds.
On Shekau’s whereabouts, which cannot be determined in the video, Olukolade said, “I don’t know his location but I know that intelligence is trailing him.”
Shekau called on like-minded Islamists in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq to join the fight to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.
Olukolade suggested the plea for foreign assistance implied weakness.
“If they are still firmly on ground why does he need help?” he queried thereby dismissing Shekau’s purported claim of victories against Nigerian troops. (AFP)