World Bulletin / News Desk
The leader of Boko Haram rebels said on Wednesday a Nigerian military offensive is failing in its goal of crushing the four-year-old insurgency.
Abubakar Shekau's statement, in a video seen by Reuters, was the first word from Boko Haram since President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on May 14 in the three northeastern state worst hit by the insurgency.
Thousands of extra troops were sent to the region and Boko Haram camps were hit with air strikes. The military has since claimed that insurgents have been halted.
Shekau denied he was losing the battle.
"My fellow brethren from all over the world I assure you that we are strong, hail and hearty since they launched this assault on us following the state of emergency declaration," he said, dressed in camouflage with an AK-47 rifle resting behind him.
"When they launch any attack on us you see soldiers fleeing and throwing away their weapons like a rabbit that is been hunted down," he added, speaking in a mixture of Arabic and the Hausa language common in northern Nigeria.
Shekau asked his "brethren" in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria to join what he called Boko Haram's Holy War.
The video goes on to show apparently dead bodies in military uniform and charred camouflaged vehicles which Shekau said were evidence of victories in clashes with soldiers.
The military assault in the semi-deserts along the borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger is Jonathan's biggest effort yet to end the insurgency. Security sources said soldiers from Niger and Cameroon are also involved.
It follows a surge in violence in Nigeria's northeast by Boko Haram, which wants to establish an Islamic state there.
Nigeria's population of 170 million is split roughly evenly between Christians, who dominate in the south, and Muslims, who are the majority in the north.Last Mod: 29 Mayıs 2013, 14:12