NIGERIA: Boko Haram Dismisses Military Claims of Success in New Video

Boko Haram have rejected claims by the military that it had been routed by a four-nation offensive in a video released online yesterday, which does not show the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau.

The unidentified speaker calls Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, who have been battling the militants, "the lying coalition partners".

"Most of our territory is still under our control," said the speaker, whose face is not shown in the 10-minute message posted on YouTube which was obtained by Hausa service of the BBC.

The video bears the logo, "Islamic State in West Africa," an apparent reference to the terror group's pledge of allegiance in March to the IS group.

The message is the first video released by Boko Haram since February when Shekau was shown in high definition footage and vowed to disrupt the 2015 general elections.

Shekau had featured prominently in most of the group's videos over the last three years and his absence in the latest message will likely stir further debate on his whereabouts or possible death.

The military had previously claimed its forces had killed Shekau and described the speaker as a composite character, and that the role of "Shekau" was filled by various similar-looking insurgents at different times.

The speaker, in the new message, appears in front of two pick-up trucks, with four other gunmen visible in the background. An AK-47 rifle rests on his chest as he seeks to rebuke the claims of successes made in recent weeks by the coalition.

"The army claims, through the media, that they captured our towns and that they assaulted Sambisa Forest and defeated us," he said.
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