Nigerian Boko Haram leader killed, militants say


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Abubakar Shekau

Abubakar Shekau

Rival Islamist militants said in an audio recording that the leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, had killed himself.

In an audio recording obtained by news agencies, the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) said Shekau died detonating explosives on himself after a battle between the two groups.

Shekau’s death was reported last month and her death was reported before.

Neither Boko Haram nor the Nigerian government confirmed his death.

What did the registry say?

In the undated audio recording, a voice believed to be of Iswab leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi said Shekau “killed himself on the spot by detonating an explosive device.”

Al-Barnawi said that Eswab’s fighters chased after the warlord and offered him the opportunity to repent and join them.

“Shekau would rather be humiliated in the afterlife than be humiliated on earth,” he said.

When reports spread that Shekau had been killed in a clash last month, the Nigerian military said it would investigate.

Army spokesman Brigadier General Mohamed Yarema told the BBC at the time that the army was looking into what happened, but would not issue a statement until it had conclusive evidence.

A journalist closely linked to the security services said that Shekau died when Iswab attacked Boko Haram positions in the Sambisa Forest, northeastern Nigeria.

His death has been reported many times before, only to resurface.

Who is Abu Bakr Shekau?

After taking the reins of Boko Haram after the death of its founder in police custody in 2009, Shekau led its transformation from a clandestine cult into a deadly insurgency that swept northeastern Nigeria.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau carries a weapon in an unknown location in Nigeria

Shekau used propaganda videos to promote his violent ideology

Under Shekau, Boko Haram carried out bombings, kidnappings, and prison escapes across the region. And since 2014, it began sweeping cities in an attempt to create an Islamic state under Islamic law.

It is believed that in his early forties, Shekau supported a bloody jihadist campaign in propaganda videos comparing Osama bin Laden.

“I enjoy killing…the way I enjoy butchering chickens and rams,” he said in a 2012 video.

Since taking charge, he has killed more than 30,000 people and displaced more than two million people from their homes.

The group gained worldwide attention after 2014 Hundreds of girls kidnapped from a school in Chibok, Borno State, sparking the #BringBackOurGirls movement. Many of them are still missing.

Soon after, the US declared Shekau a “global terrorist” and placed a $7m (£4.9m) bounty on his head.

Shekau’s agenda was so extreme that it was rejected by the Islamic State, which split from Boko Haram to form Iswap in 2016.

What after Boko Haram?

Analysts say that if Shekau’s death is confirmed, it is not certain that it will be the end of Boko Haram.

Since the separation, Iswap has removed Boko Haram as the dominant insurgency movement in the region.

Some speculate that Shekau’s death will bring an end to the violent rivalry between the two groups, enabling Iswap to absorb Boko Haram fighters, but others say they will remain loyal to his ideas.

“There is a split among Shekau’s followers over joining Iswap now or fighting Iswap,” Jacob Zinn, editor-in-chief of the Jamestown Foundation for Terrorism, told the BBC.

“There was no plan to meet the group’s dictator with his death. It looks like there will now be a period of chaos,” he added.


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