'No surprise if Boko Haram in SA'

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iol news pic Shekau Boko Haram Associated Press This image, taken from video posted by Boko Haram sympathisers, shows the leader of the radical Islamist sect, Abubakar Shekau. File picture: AP

Cape Town - South Africans should not be surprised if Boko Haram splinter groups are operating in the country, Deputy International Relations Minister Luwellyn Landers said on Wednesday.

While there was no proof the Islamic militant group was operational in South Africa, he was concerned, he told reporters at Parliament.

“That has to be a concern for anybody and we shouldn't be surprised if they are here,” Landers said.

“Someone who does a lot of work in Africa said to me it's very difficult to pinpoint just who belongs to Boko Haram because they have succeeded in integrating in every community they seek to be part of.”

Boko Haram has been blamed for a series of bombings, mainly in north-east Nigeria, its suspected base of operations.

In the latest attack on Tuesday, a truck exploded, killing at least 15 people in the city of Maiduguri, a city repeatedly hit by Boko Haram members.

The group made headlines after it kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria's Borno state in April.

Other countries, including Cameroon, have begun a crackdown on suspected Boko Haram splinter groups.

“South Africa will continue to support the actions taken by the African Union in support of Nigeria and other countries where the scourge of terrorism and armed groupings impact on the lives of innocent people and impede development,” Landers said.

Boko Haram's influence in other countries could be more pronounced as its members blended into their surroundings.

“They don't go around wearing specific colours or overalls or logos, so... you'll never know that the person sitting next to you is a member of Boko Haram. That's how effective they've become,” Landers said.

Sapa



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