Posted: Monday 25th August 2014 at 10:10 am

Boko Haram declares ‘Islamic state’

fedc77154888 77153742 Boko Haram declares Islamic stateIn his previous video, Abubakar Shekau congratulated Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

Militant group Boko Haram has said it has set up an Islamic state in the towns and villages it has seized in north-eastern Nigeria.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was speaking in a video released to congratulate his fighters for seizing the town of Gwoza earlier this month.

It is not clear if Mr Shekau has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria.

Nigeria’s army has rejected the claim as “empty”.

Thousands of people have been killed in north-eastern Nigeria since 2009, when Boko Haram began its insurgency.

Gwoza, which had 265,000 residents in the last census, is the biggest town under Boko Haram control.

It has raised its flags over the palace of the Emir of Gwoza, the town’s traditional ruler, residents say.

 75306515 line976 Boko Haram declares Islamic state

Who are Boko Haram?

 75329061 nigeriamaidugurigwozamandara4640614 Boko Haram declares Islamic state

  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – but also attacks on police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

Who are Boko Haram?

Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau

 75306515 line976 Boko Haram declares Islamic state

Gwoza is not far from Chibok, where Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in April.

It his previous video, released in July, Mr Shekau congratulated Islamic State but did not go any further.

Nigeria’s police say it is still looking for 35 police officers who went missing after Boko Haram attacked a police academy in Liman Kara, near Gwoza last week.

Residents say the militants seized the college but it is unclear who now controls it.

Nigeria declared a state of emergency in three north-eastern states in 2013 but the insurgency has continued and even intensified.