Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, has announced that he has created an Islamic caliphate in a city seized by the insurgents earlier this month in Borno State, northeastern Nigeria.
According to a 52-minute video AFP obtained on Sunday, 24 August, 2014, the Islamist group leader said: “Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in (the town of) Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate.”
Shekau, who the United Nations blacklisted as a terrorists in July, declared that Gwoza, in Borno state, now has “nothing to do with Nigeria”.
“By the grace of Allah we will not leave the town. We have come to stay,” Shekau added.
The United Nations humanitarian office confirmed in a report some weeks ago that Gwoza was under rebel control.
Boko Haram is also believed to be in control of other areas near Gwoza in southern Borno, as well as large swathes of territory in northern Borno and at least one town in neighbouring Yobe state.
Mapping the precise areas which have fallen into Islamist hands is nearly impossible.
There are few humanitarian workers on the ground in the northeast, travel is dangerous and the region, which has been under a state of emergency since May of last year, has poor mobile phone coverage.
Experts have described Boko Haram’s gains in recent weeks as unprecedented, saying the group was closer than ever to achieving its goal of carving out a strict Islamic state across northern Nigeria.
But many analysts believe the military has the capacity to reverse the insurgents’ advance.
It would be recalled that some Nigerian soldiers last week refused to be deployed to Gwoza without better weapons in an apparent mutiny.
The Boko Haram is believed to have killed thousands of innocents lives since it intensified its insurgency in 2009.