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Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Nigerian Military Base Attack

File - Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, center, flanked by militants in April 2012 screengrab image (AFP Photo/YouTube).
The leader of Nigerian militant group Boko Haram says his group was responsible for an attack on a Nigerian military base earlier this month.

Abubakar Shekau made the comments in a 40-minute video made public through Nigerian journalists on Thursday.

Shekau says God has given his group "victory" in the attack in the city of Maiduguri, the home base for the shadowy Islamist militant group.

On December 2, militants attacked an air force base and army barracks in the northeastern city.

A defense ministry spokesman said 24 insurgents died in a shootout with soldiers at the base. There was no word on whether there were military or civilian casualties.

A VOA correspondent who visited the scene after the attack reported damage at the barracks and a nearby police station.

In the video, Shekau also renewed warnings that his group will attack the United States.

A journalist who saw the video says Shekau is dressed in military camouflage. He is holding what appears to be a Russian-made rifle and becomes extremely agitated during portions of his 19-minute message.

He alternates between three languages, Hausa, Arabic and Kanuri. The rest of the video shows what appears to be excerpts of the militant attack on the military facilities in Maiduguri.

The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified.

Boko Haram's name roughly translates from the Hausa language as "Western education is a sin."

The militant group is believed to be fighting for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, and is blamed for thousands of deaths since it began its uprising in 2009.

The violence prompted the Nigerian government to declare a state of emergency in three northeastern states this year and send additional soldiers to fight the group. Human rights groups have accused the military of using indiscriminate and heavy-handed violence in its crackdown.