After Attack On Rival, IS Militants Battle For Control In Northeast Nigeria
Umer Jamshaid 2 months ago Fri 04th June 2021 | 10:40 AM
Kano, Nigeria, June 4 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 4th Jun, 2021 ) :For years, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was a dreaded figure in Nigeria's insurgency, terrorising local communities with attacks, bombs and kidnappings.
Today, this once-dominant figure seems to be leaving the scene after being badly wounded -- or perhaps killed -- last week in clashes with rival Islamic State-allied militants.
If so, a major shift in Nigeria's 12-year-old militant insurgency appears to be developing as his enemies consolidate their grip, analysts say.
Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) is now targeting Boko Haram's soldiers after raiding Shekau's stronghold in Sambisa forest in Borno state, local and security sources said.
ISWAP has intensified attacks on Boko Haram factions, appointed its own chief in Shekau's enclave and executed 10 captured commanders who had refused to surrender, the sources said.
"It may not be over yet, ISWAP will have to subdue or convince these camps to coalesce (them) into its fold to fully consolidate its control," said one security source.
Shekau was badly wounded after he shot himself last week to avoid capture by ISWAP fighters as they invaded his forest enclave, according to intelligence sources.
Neither ISWAP or Boko Haram have released statements and the Nigerian military said only that it is investigating.
But whatever his status, fighting between rival factions has intensified.
On Wednesday, ISWAP jihadists in speedboats raided Boko Haram camps in Bosso in neighbouring Niger, leading to a battle with huge casualties, intelligence sources said.
"There was heavy fighting in Agadira, Lelewa and Kwatar Bauna between ISWAP and Boko Haram fighters which was bloody," said one intelligence source who asked not to be identified.
Even before the Sambisa battle, ISWAP emerged as the more dominant force, carrying out large-scale attacks against the Nigerian military.
Al-Barnawi is the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf and was chosen to replace Shekau after Boko Haram paid allegiance to IS.
Locals were chased out of the lake islands after ISWAP accused them of spying for the military. Al-Barnawi said they could now return for fishing and trading after paying tax, with the assurance they would not be harmed, Arzika said.
ISWAP told locals they declared a ceasefire on Nigerian troops to focus for now on fighting "tyrant" Boko Haram until they submit to its leadership or are killed, he said.
Al-Barnawi rounded up 30 Boko Haram commanders including two of five being considered to replace Shekau, according to intelligence sources and locals with knowledge of militants' activities.