Nigeria’s Boko Haram leader dead, Islamic State West African Province says

The Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) militant group mentioned in an audio recording heard by Reuters on Sunday that Abubakar Shekau, leader of rival Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram, was lifeless.

Shekau died round Might 18 after detonating an explosive gadget when he was pursued by ISWAP fighters following a battle, an individual purporting to be ISWAP leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi mentioned on the audio recording.

“Abubakar Shekau, God has judged him by sending him to heaven,” he might be heard saying.

Two folks conversant in al-Barnawi informed Reuters the voice on the recording was that of the ISWAP leader. A Nigerian intelligence report shared by a authorities official and Boko Haram researchers have additionally mentioned Shekau is lifeless.

Final month, Nigeria’s army mentioned it was investigating Shekau’s alleged dying, additionally reported in Nigerian and international information retailers. The audio assertion, first obtained by native media, is ISWAP’s first affirmation that its arch rival within the Lake Chad area has been killed. Islamic State “are consolidating the entire space, the Lake Chad area and (Shekau’s stronghold),” mentioned Bulama Bukarti, an analyst specialising in Boko Haram on the Tony Blair Institute for International Change.

“ISWAP had framed Shekau as the issue and he was the one particular person they wished to take away,” Bukarti mentioned of Islamic State’s try to lure Boko Haram commanders and fighters to their aspect.

Shekau’s dying may result in the top of a violent rivalry between the 2 teams, enabling Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) to soak up Boko Haram fighters and consolidate its maintain on territory in northeastern Nigeria, political analysts mentioned. That might enable ISWAP to focus its consideration on the federal government and army, whose warfare efforts are languishing.

Boko Haram’s leader was reported to have been killed on a number of events over the past 12 years, together with in bulletins by the army, solely to later seem in a video put up.

Within the audio recording, the person recognized as al-Barnawi mentioned his fighters had sought out the warlord on the orders of the Islamic State management, and battled Boko Haram insurgents till Shekau fled.

ISWAP chased him down and supplied him the prospect to repent and be a part of them, he mentioned.

“Shekau most popular to be humiliated within the afterlife than getting humiliated on earth, and he killed himself immediately by detonating an explosive,” he mentioned.

Boko Haram grabbed headlines worldwide with its 2014 kidnapping of greater than 270 schoolgirls from the city of Chibok, sparking a worldwide marketing campaign for his or her return dubbed #BringBackOurGirls, backed by the likes of Michelle Obama.

Round 100 of the Chibok Ladies are nonetheless lacking, and a few are thought to have died in captivity. Shekau led the transformation of Boko Haram from an underground Islamic sect in 2009 to a full-fledged insurgency, killing, kidnapping and looting its manner throughout northeast Nigeria.

The group has killed greater than 30,000 folks, pressured round 2 million folks to flee their houses and spawned one of many world’s worst humanitarian crises.

ISWAP was beforehand a part of Boko Haram earlier than its cut up 5 years in the past, pledging allegiance to Islamic State. The schism was brought on by spiritual ideological disagreements over the killing of civilians by Boko Haram, to which ISWAP objected.

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