DAKAR, Senegal — The top of Nigeria’s best-known terrorist group, Boko Haram, has been reported lifeless many occasions earlier than.
However now proof that this time he would possibly actually be lifeless has emerged by way of an audio message, apparently recorded by the top of a rival extremist group.
In it, the chief of Islamic State West Africa Province, often known as ISWAP, appeared to substantiate that Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s violent and erratic chief, killed himself reasonably than be taken prisoner in Could.
“Shekau most popular to be humiliated within the hereafter than on earth,” the voice within the recording says. “He killed himself immediately by detonating an explosive.”
Mr. Shekau was finest identified for the kidnapping of a whole lot of schoolgirls from a boarding faculty in Chibok in 2014. However his fighters kidnapped, killed, raped and robbed many hundreds extra, and despatched untold numbers of Nigerians to their deaths as suicide bombers. Tens of millions have been displaced within the area on account of the violence.
The loss of life of Mr. Shekau, if true, marks the top of a brutal period for northeast Nigeria and its neighboring nations within the Lake Chad area.
But it surely may additionally signify the start of a brand new period, by which ISWAP takes new territory after eliminating its chief rival, and amps up confrontations with the Nigerian state and its army. ISWAP splintered from Boko Haram, reportedly partly due to Mr. Shekau’s violence towards Muslim civilians.
In late Could, stories trickled out that closely armed ISWAP members had arrived at Mr. Shekau’s hide-out within the Sambisa forest. When he realized that there was no method to escape, he detonated a suicide vest he was carrying, the stories mentioned.
The Nigerian army, which has largely retreated to garrison cities within the northeast reasonably than attempting to manage the countryside, mentioned it was investigating. This can be very tough to substantiate Mr. Shekau’s loss of life definitively, and he has been falsely reported as lifeless earlier than — by some counts, eight occasions.
The audio was shared with investigative journalist Ahmad Salkida, who is thought to have a very good data of Boko Haram and ISWAP exercise, and who revealed an article about it on Humangle, the information website he co-founded. The voice sounds the identical as that in earlier recordings attributed to Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the chief of ISWAP and the son of Boko Haram’s founder Mohammed Yusuf.
Within the audio, the voice, which speaks within the Kanuri language, says that ISWAP troopers had been instructed to “take pressing motion” towards Mr. Shekau by “Amirul Muminin,” referring to the chief of ISIS, in keeping with Mr. Salkida. ISWAP has pledged allegiance to ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
ISWAP fighters engaged Mr. Shekau in gunfire, after which he ran away and hid within the bush for 5 days, the audio mentioned. However the fighters tracked him down.
“Our fighters sacrificed their lives and had been in a state of concern, pondering that it was an inconceivable mission to attain,” the message mentioned. “He was truly caught unawares.”
ISWAP has recently posed the better risk to the Nigerian army, which is stretched as it’s deployed to combat numerous crises in nearly each one of many West African nation’s states.
Ismail Alfa contributed reporting from Maiduguri, Nigeria.