by Dare Lawal
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau made another video appearance on Monday in which the sect accepted responsibility for both the Baga and Bama attacks in which so many innocent Nigerians were killed.
Shekau also hinted in the video that the sect has hostages which included women and children as a kind of response to the alleged arrests of the wives and children of members of the sect.
Shekau is seen seated on a rug with a kalashnikov resting behind his right shoulder in the video.
Once again, the group insisted that it had no use for the FG’s amnesty offer.
“We are the ones that carried out the Bama attack,” Shekau said in Hausa, referring to the May 7 assault that killed 55 people, mostly soldiers and policemen. In the video, he also takes responsibility for the April 16 raid in the town near Lake Chad that sparked clashes with soldiers which killed nearly 200.
“It was you, the security agents, that went into town the following day and burnt homes and killed people at will,” Shekau said.
The military insisted that only 37 people, including 30 suspected Islamists, died in the Baga violence.
According to reports in The Nation Newspaper:
Some seven minutes into the 12-minute video message, the screen splits, showing Shekau on the left with a group of unidentified women and children on the right.
The Islamist leader claimed this group is being held hostage in retaliation for the wives and children of Boko Haram members detained by the military.
Boko Haram has never before boasted about the kidnapping of women and children.
“As long as we do not see our women and children, we will never release these women and children,” Shekau said.
The group set out a similar condition for the release of seven members of a French family who were kidnapped in February in Cameroon near the Nigerian border. The Moulin-Fournier family were released last month.
Before claiming the French abductions, Boko Haram had not widely been associated with kidnappings. Their attacks, which have killed hundreds since 2009, have included suicide blasts as well as coordinated gun and bomb assaults on the security forces and other symbols of authority.
The recent attacks in the Northeast have raised concern about the increasingly brazen tactics used by the insurgents, who have said they are fighting to create an Islamic state in mostly Muslim northern Nigeria.
In Bama, they stormed the commercial centre in a convoy of seven vehicles, launching coordinated pre-dawn attacks on the military, police and several government buildings.
It was not immediately clear last night how the committee appointed to seek dialogue with the sect will react to its latest rejection of peace overtimes.