Recent deadly attacks in Nigeria blamed on Boko Haram terrorists were an attempt by the group to grab the attention of international media, a spokesperson for the Nigeria's defence has told IBTimes UK. Rabe Abubakar said the ongoing military offensive against the terrorists had been successful and alleged the latest attacks were "the result of the insurgents' own desperation".
Abubakar made the comment as at least 86 people, including children, were murdered in an attack in the village of Dalori, in the restive Borno state, on 31 January. Survivors said they heard the screams of children burning alive as the insurgents set huts ablaze. Many people who had managed to flee to neighbouring Gamori village were killed when three suicide bombers detonated their explosives.
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.
Boko Haram carries out 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 20,000 people since 2009 and was deemed the world's deadliest terror group, surpassing its ally the Islamic State (Isis) in November 2015.
Nigeria has become the world's third most terrorised country as a result of the group's violent insurgency.
In January, 11 people died during a bomb blast in Gombi market and 15 were killed in suicide bombing missions in Chibok, a remote village in Borno where the insurgents kidnapped some 219 girls in April 2014.
Survivors of the Dalori attack complained to journalists that it had taken too long for the military – located in the nearby city of Maiduguri – to intervene. However, Abubakar said the army should be applauded for its efforts to tackle the insurgents.
"The attacks are the result of Boko Haram's own desperation as they want media attention," he said. "They are just trying to show that they are still alive, but we are suppressing them completely.
"We have deprived them from freedom of action. Citizens must be protected and we are trying to protect them. We should be applauded and praised for what we have done in the fight against Boko Haram. This is not a national problem and all nations must join us to ensure a full eradication."
The latest attack came weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari – who vowed his administration would end terrorism in Nigeria – said the fight against the terrorists was "technically won". In the aftermath of the raid in Dalori, the leader urged citizens to be more vigilant and ready to work with security operatives.
Boko Haram has not released any official statements after the Nigerian government repeatedly declared a regional offensive – consisting of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin – had been successful.
Meanwhile, Cameroon closed markets along the border with north-eastern Nigeria after the area had been hit by Boko Haram-linked attacks at least 30 times since the beginning of 2016.