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By Ardo Abdullahi
BAUCHI, Nigeria March 17 (Reuters) - A man purporting to be the leader of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram denied in a video posted on Friday that 5,000 people held by the group had been freed by West African forces earlier in the week.
On Wednesday, Cameroon said regional forces had rescued the hostages, who were held in villages by the jihadist group, in an operation along the Nigeria-Cameroon border.
"You are telling lies that you killed 60 of our men and rescued 20 children, and that you rescued 5,000 of your people, Paul Biya," said the man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, referring to Cameroon's president.
He also claimed responsibility for attacks earlier this week which included suicide bombings in the city of Maiduguri and a raid on the town of Magumeri, both of which are in the northeast Nigerian state of Borno.
Nigeria's military has said on multiple occasions in the last few years that it has killed or wounded Shekau.
Such statements have often been followed by video denials by someone who says he is Shekau, but poor footage makes it difficult to confirm if the person is the same man as in previous footage.
Boko Haram has killed around 15,000 people and forced more than 2 million people to flee their homes since 2009 in an insurgency aimed at creating a state adhering to strict Islamic laws in the northeast of Africa's most populous nation.
The jihadist group, whose attacks have increased since the end of the rainy season in late 2016, also carries out cross-border attacks in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. (Additional reporting by Ahmed Kingimi; writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)