Boko Haram has renamed two towns it captured in northeast Nigeria as part of campaign to establish a caliphate in the region, residents who have fled in recent days told AFP on Thursday.
Gwoza in neighboring Borno state, which was captured in July, is now being called Darul Hikma or “House of Wisdom,” multiple residents said.
Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a video released in August, declared that he had made Gwoza part of a caliphate — an announcement that recalled a similar move by the Islamic State militant group that has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.
The extremists are believed to control more than two dozen towns and villages in Nigeria’s far northeast and there are signs that they are trying to advance south toward Adamawa’s capital of Yola.
“They have given new names to Gwoza and Mubi, which they say are now part of their Islamic state,” said Ahmad Maishanu, who fled Mubi with his mother on Wednesday to Yola.
Tijjani Kalifa, who left Mubi on Monday and has contacts in Gwoza, also reported that Boko Haram was forcing people in both towns to use the new names.
Both witnesses said all the churches in Mubi had been burned down and that Islamists were patroling the streets regularly, with no sign of resistance from the security services.