Boko Haram recruited three local gangs in northwest Nigeria to kidnap hundreds of schoolboys on its behalf, security and local sources said Wednesday.
The jihadist group has claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, which targeted a secondary school in the town of Kankara, in Katsina state.
But sources told AFP the operation was carried out on Boko Haram’s orders by a notorious local gangster called Awwalun Daudawa.
The 43-year-old worked in collaboration with Idi Minorti and Dankarami, two other crime chiefs with strong local followings, they said.
Criminal gangs, known as bandits, have terrorised communities in northwest Nigeria for years, and experts had recently warned of attempts by jihadists to forge an alliance with them.
Daudawa “was an armed robber and a cattle rustler before he turned to gun-running, bringing in weapons from Libya, where he had received training, and selling them to bandits,” said a security source.