A large group of Boko Haram jihadists have moved out of their base in the North-East to join forces with criminal gangs in the North-West, where they are engaged in weapons training and kidnapping, military sources told AFP on Friday.
Boko Haram’s Islamic State-allied rivals have been consolidating their grip on the North-East after the death of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, this year in a major shift in Nigeria’s 12-year insurgency battle, The Punch reports
Islamic State West Africa Province 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 North-West, 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 northwestern Kaduna State.
Both commanders are allied with Bakoura Buduma, a Boko Haram chief who remains loyal to Shekau and whose fighters are resisting ISWAP consolidation, according to security sources.
“They are the masterminds behind some of the abductions in the North-West,” one of the military sources said.