A large group of Boko Haram terrorists have moved out of their base in the North-East region to join forces with criminal gangs and bandits in the North-West, where they are engaged in weapons training and kidnapping, military sources told Agence France Presse, (AFP) yesterday.
Boko Haram’s Islamic State-allied rivals have been consolidating their grip on the North-East after the reported death of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, this year, in a major shift in the coubtry’s 12-year insurgency.
Islamic State West Africa Province, (ISWAP), has been moving into Boko Haram’s territory, fighting Shekau loyalists, assimilating some, or forcing others to surrender to the armed forces, security sources said.
Details of the Boko Haram fighters moving could be the latest sign of cooperation between jihadists and criminal armed groups in the northwest, who raid and loot villages and conduct mass abductions for ransom.
Two military sources said a faction loyal to Shekau, based in Borno State, had dispatched two commanders and 250 fighters to the Rijana forests in Kaduna State.
According to security sources, both commanders are allied with a Boko Haram chief, Bakoura Buduma, who remains loyal to Shekau and whose fighters are resisting ISWAP consolidation,
Both sources said Boko Haram militants were also training the gangs, known locally as bandits, in the use of anti-aircraft guns and explosives and other weapons.
A military spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. Also, Kaduna State officials did not immediately reply to a request for confirmation as at the time of filing this report.
Zamfara State, neighbouring Kaduna, earlier this month began a military campaign against bandits and ordered a complete telecoms blackout in a bid to disrupt bandits’ communications.