|Happy news: 82 Chibok girls free in Boko Haram exchange|
|[Ynet] Three years after they were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, dozens of girls have been released from captivity in return for the release of Boko Haram arrested by Nigerian authorities; the fate of over a 100 others girls remains unknown.|
Eighty-two Chibok schoolgirls seized three years ago by have been freed in exchange for detained suspects with the group, Nigeria's government announced early Sunday, in the largest release negotiated yet in the battle to save nearly 300 girls whose mass abduction exposed the mounting threat posed by the -linked fighters.
The statement from the office of President Muhammadu Buhari was the first confirmation that his government had made a swap for the girls. After an initial release of 21 Chibok girls in October, the government denied making an exchange or paying ransom.
The April 2014 abduction by Boko Haram brought the group's rampage in northern Nigeria to world attention and, for families of the schoolgirls, began years marked with heartbreak.
Many of the captive girls, most of them Christians, were forced to marry their captors and give birth to children in remote forest hideouts without ever knowing if they would see their parents again. It is feared that other girls were strapped with explosives and sent on missions as s.
Before Saturday's release, 195 of the girls had remained captive. Now 113 of the girls remain unaccounted for.
The freed girls were expected to meet with Buhari on Sunday in the capital, Abuja.
A Nigerian military official with direct knowledge of the rescue operation said the freed girls were found near the town of Banki in Borno state near "The location of the girls kept changing since yesterday when the operation to rescue them commenced," said the official. Boko Haram remains active in that area.
On Friday, the United States and issued warnings that the group was actively planning to kidnap foreigners in an area of Borno state "along the Kumshe-Banki axis."
The 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok in 2014 are among thousands of people by Boko Haram over the years. The mass abduction shocked the world, sparking a global #Bringbackourgirls campaign supported by former US first lady Michelle Obama and other celebrities. It has put tremendous pressure on Nigeria's government to counter the group, which has roamed large parts of the north and into neighboring countries.
|Boko Haram Planning Foreign Kidnaps in NE Nigeria|
|[An Nahar] and the United States on Friday said was preparing to kidnap foreigners in remote , which is in the grip of a food crisis caused by the conflict.|
The Foreign Office in London said it had received reports the Islamist were "actively planning" to seize foreign workers in the Bama local government area of Borno state.
Both said in travel advice that the affected area was "along the Banki-Kumshe axis", which is near the border with The US embassy in Abuja said in a message to its nationals that the report was "credible".
Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of , including more than 200 schoolgirls from the Borno town of Chibok in 2014, which brought the conflict to world attention.
At least 20,000 people have been killed since 2009. But abductions of foreigners have been rare.
There was a spate of kidnappings of foreign workers in the wider north from 2011 to 2013, claimed by a Boko Haram splinter group, Ansaru, which was more ideologically aligned to al-Qaeda. The leader of Ansaru, Khalid al-Barnawi, has been charged with the abduction and murder of foreign workers, among them an Italian, a Briton, a German, Greek, Lebanese and Syrians. Most were engineers or construction workers.
|Suicide Bomber Kills Five Troops in NE Nigeria|
|[AnNahar] At least five soldiers were killed and another 40 injured when a jihadist rammed an explosives-laden pick-up truck into a military convoy in , security sources told AFP on Friday.|
The bomber, believed to be loyal to factional leader Abu Mus'ab al-Barnawi, targeted the convoy, which was conducting "clearance operations" between Yobe and Borno states, two military officers said.
"At about 1100 hours (1000 GMT) on Thursday, a believed to be a Boko Haram terrorist riding in a van loaded with explosives rammed into a military convoy at Manguzum village," one said.
"We lost five soldiers in the incident and more than 40 sustained various degrees of injuries," added the officer, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak about the incident.
The convoy was heading to the garrison town of Damboa, which is some 90 kilometres (55 miles) from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, at the time.
A second military source said the troops were heading into Borno when the jihadist crashed his vehicle into a tank.
"The armoured tank was seriously damaged and the operation slowed down," he added.
There has been a spate of deadly attacks on military targets in recent months, as troops fight to end the eight-year insurgency, which has left at least 20,000 dead in Nigeria alone.
The conflict has also spilled into neighbouring countries , Chad and Niger, making more than two million homeless.
Most of the recent attacks are suspected to have been carried out by the al-Barnawi faction, which is backed by the group.
Last August IS declared al-Barnawi, whose father founded Boko Haram, as the group's new leader, replacing its long-time figurehead Shekau has rejected al-Barnawi's leadership and maintained he was still in charge, leading to a split and infighting.
While Shekau focuses mainly on hit-and-run raids on villages and attacks on civilian targets, al-Barnawi is focused on attacks on the military.
|Suspected Boko Haram militants kill five soldiers|
|[NEWS24] Suspected jihadists killed five Nigerian soldiers and injured five others in a raid on a military post in the violence-torn northeast, locals and a military officer said on Tuesday.|
"Our men were outgunned and outnumbered," said a military officer in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
Scores of fighters loyal to the Boko Haram faction headed by Abu Musab al-Barnawi stormed a checkpoint near Sabon Garin Kimba village about 140km from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram.
"We lost five men in the fight. Five more ," the military officer said.
The group last year appointed al-Barnawi as head of Boko Haram, replacing long-time leader
|Suspected Boko Haram militants kill five soldiers in NE Nigeria|
|[AlAhram] Suspected killed five Nigerian soldiers and injured five others in a raid on a military post in the violence-torn northeast, locals and a military officer said Tuesday.|
"Our men were outgunned and outnumbered," said a military officer in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak about the incident.
Scores of fighters loyal to the Boko Haram faction headed by Abu Musab al-Barnawi late Monday stormed a checkpoint near Sabon Garin Kimba village about 140 kilometres (90 miles) from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram.
"We lost five men in the fight. Five more ," the military officer said.
The (IS) group last year appointed al-Barnawi as head of Boko Haram, replacing long-time leader Mustapha Karimbe, a civilian assisting the military, said the Islamist took military vehicles and burned three armoured cars along with makeshift sheds at the checkpoint.
"The attacked the soldiers... and remained in the village for three hours before they withdrew," said Karimbe.
This was the second attack on the same military checkpoint in under a month.
Late last month, Islamist dressed in Nigerian military uniforms attacked the checkpoint and forced soldiers to withdraw before looting food and medical supplies from the village.
Boko Haram has in recent weeks intensified attacks on military targets in the northeast.
|Boko Haram Kidnap 22 Girls, Women in Northeast Nigeria|
|[An Nahar] Islamists have 22 girls and women in two separate raids in , residents and vigilantes told AFP Friday.|
In the first attack on Thursday, the jihadists raided the village of Pulka near border with where they kidnapped 18 girls.
"Boko Haram fighters from Mamman Nur camp arrived in pickup vans around 6:00 am and seized 14 s aged 17 and below while residents fled into the bush," a Pulka community leader told AFP by phone.
"They picked four other girls who were fleeing the raid they came across in the bush outside the village," said the community leader who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.
According to the official, the attackers were loyal to the faction headed by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf.
Barnawi was appointed last year by the group to replace leader , who had pledged allegiance to the Middle East jihadist group in 2015.
Another resident confirmed the raid and said the girls were likely to end up as brides for the fighters.
"They didn't harm anyone during the raid and they made no attempt to shoot people running away from the village," said the resident.
In the second incident outside the village of Dumba, close to Lake Chad, the jihadists killed a herdsman who had tried to escape after refusing to pay protection money, said Adamu Ahmed, a member of an anti-Boko Haram militia.
"When the Boko Haram came for the money they realised he had left with everything and they decided to go after him on their s," Ahmed said.
"They caught up with him near Dumba where they slaughtered him and 50 of his cattle.
"They took four women from the man's family and the rest of the herd," he said.
The promotion of Barnawi had revealed divisions in the group, as Shekau had been criticised for mass killings and s against civilians.
Barnawi and his right-hand man Mamman Nur, who is seen as the real leader, had promised residents in areas under their control would not be harmed as long as they did not cooperate with Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram.
But in recent weeks the Islamist fighters have intensified raids in areas near Lake Chad, stealing food from residents.
|Boko Haram raids stoke fear of fresh attacks|
|[AlAhram] Islamists raided a village in , in the latest rampage to steal food and medical supplies, as fears grew of more attacks, locals and security personnel said on Sunday.|
Scores of fighters loyal to the faction headed by Abu Musab al-Barnawi stormed Sabon Garin Kimba, some 140 kilometres (88 miles) southwest of the Borno state capital Maiduguri.
They were dressed in military uniform and arrived in a pick-up in Nigerian army colours at about 6:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Friday,
The raid is significant as no or injured.
The group last year announced Barnawi was in charge of Boko Haram instead of its long-time leader . Barnawi has criticised Shekau's indiscriminate violence against civilians.
Militia member Mustapha Karimbe, who visited the village on Saturday, said: "The attackers took away food items and medical supplies from shops and a pharmacy but they didn't harm anyone.
"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 CJTF member in Maiduguri told AFP last week that co-ordinated military action by Nigeria and its neighbours had cut off the Islamist s' food and fuel supply lines.
Militants from both Boko Haram camps have in recent weeks intensified raids on villages and towns in the region in search of food.
On Sunday, residents in the town of Magumeri, some 50 kilometres northwest of Maiduguri, said Boko Haram fighters were mobilising in nearby villages.
"The fighters have been mobilising since yesterday (Saturday) and we don't know where they intend to strike," said one local resident, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.
"There is so much fear among people in the area because the Boko Haram fighters are definitely up to something," said another.
Boko Haram attacked Magumeri on March 15, looting food supplies and burning homes after overwhelming troops.
Nigeria's chief of army staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, and other senior military officers were expected to attend the small arms championship.
There have been sporadic attacks in and around the Sambisa Forest area against people and traffic.
On March 1, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Boko Haram attacks had forced some 7,000 people to flee villages around the town of Chibok in less than a week.
On Saturday, Buratai said the shooting competition would enable Nigerian troops to "continue to dominate the area" as well as hone soldiers' marksmanship skills.
|Boko Haram leader, Shekau, appears in new video; threatens world leaders|
|[PREMIUMTIMESNG] leader, , has appeared in a new video, refuting recent claims of attacks by ian President Paul Biya, while threatening world leaders.|
The 27-minute footage, sent to PREMIUM TIMES by a journalist with known contact to Boko Haram, also showed Mr. Shekau thanking his followers.
Mr. Shekau displayed identity cards, arms, ammunition and other equipment purportedly seized from the Cameroonian Army.
Mr. Shekau also ordered his fighters to remain steadfast, adding that the sect will not back down until Sharia is established in Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Mali.
The video comes three days after the sect released a video claiming to have killed some three men allegedly working for government.
|At Least Five Dead in Nigeria Suicide Attacks|
|[AnNahar] At least two people were killed in a suspected suicide on a university campus in , a local resident, a lecturer and emergency services told AFP on Monday.|
The blast happened at 5:25 am (0425 GMT) at a mosque in the staff quarters area of the University of Maiduguri and is thought to have been carried out by a teenage girl.
Suspicion will likely fall on the Islamist group , which has repeatedly used young women and girls as human bombs to target worshippers.
There were reports locally of a separate but details were not immediately available.
"At exactly 5:25 am, while I was leaving the mosque in my neighbourhood, I heard two s," said one local resident, who asked not to be identified. "I rushed to the university, which is not far from my house. On entering, I saw the mosque in a mess. Three people lay dead, including a , whose body was badly mutilated.
"Thirteen other worshippers ."
A university lecturer who lives on site confirmed the resident's account.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) tweeted: "A #bomb at the #mosque at the University of #Maiduguri during early morning prayers. Rescue operations ongoing..."
Access to the university campus has been strictly controlled, with checkpoints and searches at the gates. But the site, on one of the main thoroughfares leading in to and out of the city, is vast and most areas are badly lit.
One student said the first blast the mosque where professors were saying dawn prayers and many are feared among the victims. A university worker said the second bomb went off at an entrance gate. Both spoke on condition of anonymity for their safety.
Police Victor Isuku confirmed Monday's s but said rescuers are still ferrying the to hospitals and evacuating bodies, making it difficult to give a toll.
Maiduguri has been attacked many times but this is the first attack on the university blamed on Boko Haram.
A video featuring an audio recording purporting to be leader was posted on social media late on Monday. was unable to verify if the voice was indeed his.
"The bomb that on Monday morning, it's our brothers responsible for it," the recording said.
A professor at the University of Maiduguri and a child were killed and 17 people in a twin , officials said on the day of the attack.
|Boko Haram leader says violent campaign continues|
|[M.STARTRIBUNE] 's leader has declared in a new video that he is alive, denying Nigerian government claims that his Islamic group has been crushed.|
President Muhammadu Buhari said last week that soldiers had driven Boko Haram from its last forest enclave in the northeast, boasting "the are on the run, and no longer have a place to hide."
In a video posted on YouTube, announced: "I am here, well and alive" and that "the battle is just beginning." He urged his followers, in graphic terms, to continue the campaign.
Nigeria's military has claimed to have killed Shekau at least three times, and earlier this year declared he had been fatally . This week, the army said it seized Shekau's Koran in the Sambisa Forest assault -- wanting to indicate he was on the run.
Each time such claims are made, the Boko Haram leader reappears in a video to mock them.
In the latest, posted on YouTube on Dec. 29, he reiterates that "our mission is to establish an Islamic caliphate" in Nigeria -- whose 180 million people are divided almost equally between mainly s in the north and a predominantly Christian south.
In the video, Shekau does not mention some 200 schoolgirls kidnapped from a school in Chibok town who were believed to be held in the Sambisa Forest.
Nigeria is unlikely to see an end soon to the deadly s, village attacks and assaults on remote military outposts in northeastern Nigeria. The group, to which one faction of Boko Haram belongs, announced an attack on an army barracks "killed and many" soldiers on Dec. 22 -- the same day the army said it seized the forest hideout.
Already, there are reports that the have been regrouping south of their northeastern stronghold.
|Boko Haram leader sez 'tis but a flesh wound|
|Note the plastic mag the Bad Guy has in his trusty rusty AK|
[AlManar] Boko Haram’s elusive leader Abubakar Shekau appeared in a new video on Thursday to dispute a claim that the Takfiri group had been routed from its Sambisa Forest stronghold.
“We are safe. We have not been flushed out of anywhere. And tactics and strategies cannot reveal our location except if Allah wills by his decree,” Shekau said in the 25-minute video, flanked by masked armed militants.
“You should not be telling lies to the people,” he said, referring to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari who said on Christmas Eve that the extremist group had been defeated and driven away from the forest, its last known bastion.
“If you indeed crushed us, how can you see me like this? How many times have you killed us in your bogus death?” he asked.
It was not immediately clear where the new video was shot, but Shekau who spoke in both Hausa and Arabic said it was filmed on Christmas Day.
Shekau last appeared in a video in September where he disputed a claim by the Nigerian military that he had been wounded in battle.
He vowed to continue fighting on until a so-called “Islamic state” was imposed in northern Nigeria.
“Our aim is to establish an Islamic Caliphate and we have our own Caliphate, we are not part of Nigeria.”
Buhari had announced that a months-long military campaign in the 1,300 square-kilometer (500 square-mile) forest in northeastern Borno state had led to the “final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in Sambisa Forest”.
|Nigeria's army says 3,000 people who fled Boko Haram return to hometown|
|[AlAhram] More than 3,000 people in who were forced to flee the seven-year insurgency waged by Islamist have returned to their hometown following the reopening of major roads in the area, the army said on Tuesday.|
Damasak - in the northwest of Borno, the state worst hit by the - was taken over by in late 2014, when it controlled an area the size of Belgium in northeast Nigeria. The were pushed out of the town by the army in July.
President Muhammadu Buhari said on Saturday that the army had taken back Boko Haram's main camp in the Sambisa forest.
On Sunday, the government said it was reopening two roads between Borno's capital, Maiduguri, and the northern towns of Damasak and Baga.
Army Sani Usman said more than 3,000 people used one of the roads to return to Damasak on Monday.
was unable to independently verify his statement.
"They were residents of Damasak displaced by the insurgency staying as refugees in the neighbouring Niger Republic and internally displaced people in Maiduguri," he said.
Usman said the returnees went through military security checks when they arrived and were met by local government officials and community leaders.
After the announcement that the Sambisa camp had been taken, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, said the former game reserve would be used as a military training base to prevent the returning.
Security analysts say Boko Haram split this year with one faction led by operating from the Sambisa forest and the other, allied to (IS) group and led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, based in the Lake Chad region.