Source: SAPA-AFP/Times Live
The purported leader of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram has issued new threats in a message posted on YouTube while also saying last week’s attacks in Kano were over the torture of its members.
« We were responsible, » a voice identified as that of suspected Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says in audio played over a picture of him. « I ordered it and I will give that order again and again. God gave us victory. »
A purported spokesman for the group had earlier claimed responsibility for coordinated bombings and shootings on January 20 in Kano which left at least 185 people dead. Police stations were the main targets.
The authenticity of the message could not be independently verified, but the photo matched up with previous ones said to be of Shekau and the voice was similar to earlier recordings.
He says in the message that « we attacked the security formations because our members were arrested and tortured. Our women and children have also been arrested. »
The man said to be Shekau then issued another threat: « They should know that they also have wives and children. We can also abduct them. It is not beyond our powers.
« Soldiers raided an Islamic seminary in Maiduguri and desecrated the Koran. They should bear in mind that they also have primary and secondary schools and universities, and we can also attack them. »
The purported leader of the group blamed for hundreds of deaths also accused the authorities of killing civilians in Friday’s violence.
« After we finished our war, policemen stuck around and started killing civilians and later blamed us, » he said. « We are not fighting civilians, but security forces. We only kill soldiers, policemen and their collaborators. »
Friday’s attacks were the worst yet attributed to Boko Haram and occurred in a city that serves as the economic heart of Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north and a centre of Islamic culture.
Nigerian authorities have shown little sign of being able to stop violence blamed on the group.
Another police station was attacked in Kano on Tuesday night, while an explosion also went off in the city on Thursday. A German engineer was also kidnapped on the outskirts of Kano on Thursday.
It remained unclear however who was behind both of those incidents.
Shekau was seen as Boko Haram’s second-in-command at the time of a 2009 uprising put down by a brutal military assault.
The leader at the time, Mohammed Yusuf, was captured by soldiers and handed over to police, but later killed when officers said he was trying to escape.
Boko Haram went dormant for about a year after the military assault before re-emerging in 2010 with increasingly sophisticated attacks.
It claimed responsibility for the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja that killed at least 25 people.
A video posted on YouTube earlier this month was also said to be of Shekau. In the video, the man said to be Shekau issued a message to President Goodluck Jonathan and threatened further violence.
The appearance of the man in the video appeared significantly different than earlier images said to be of the Boko Haram chief, but a Western diplomat said « we assessed it was Shekau. »