Members of Nigerian terror group Boko Haram raided a village in northeastern Nigeria to steal food and medical supplies on Friday (24 March) evening. The militants, dressed in military uniforms, raided the village of Sabon Garin Kimba, in the restive Borno State.
They had reached the village in a pick-up truck displaying Nigerian army colours, civilian militia assisting troops told news agency AFP.
The militants belonged to the faction loyal to former Boko Haram's spokesperson Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who was appointed as new leader by Boko Haram's ally, the Isis terror group, in 2016.
Unlike previous Boko Haram attacks, the latest raid did not result in casualties, suggesting Barnawi's faction operates differently from Shekau's one.
"They kept telling residents they were from the Barnawi faction and would not harm anyone as long as no one got in their way," a member of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) militia said.
Following his appointment last year, Barnawi criticised Shekau for, among other things, killing Muslims and allowing the use of children in suicide bombing missions.
Is the fight against Boko Haram over?
Boko Haram used to control territories the size of Belgium.
Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists?
Boko Haram, which has renamed itself Iswap, fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law throughout occupied territories.
The group launches attacks in Nigeria and neighbouring countries in a bid to take control of more territory. Three Nigerian states − Adamawa, Borno and Yobe − have been under a state of emergency since May 2013.
Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people since 2009 and was deemed the world's deadliest terror group, surpassing Isis in November 2015. Nigeria has also become the world's third-most terrorised country as a result of the group's violent insurgency.
However, Nigeria's ongoing military operation, Lafiya Dole, and a regional offensive – consisting of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin – have scored some success, with soldiers recapturing key territories and releasing thousands of civilians held captive by the group.
However, Shekau repeatedly denied claims the group had been defeated.
Security analysts have pointed out that declaring a victory over the group is premature, given that Boko Haram is still able to carry out attacks and recruit people.