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Boko Haram militants have seized an unguarded town in northeast Nigeria without firing a shot, witnesses said on Wednesday, as the Islamic insurgency took a new turn – seizing and controlling territory. No one was harmed in the takeover – a departure for Boko Haram, which has killed thousands since launching an uprising in 2009, including several massacres of civilians. Boko Haram’s attacks appear to have shifted focus in recent weeks away from simply creating mayhem to taking ground and holding it. Last month, the insurgents captured the remote farming town of Gwoza, along the Cameroon border, during heavy fighting. Abubakar Shekau, the group’s leader, declared in a video the town was now “Muslim territory”.

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