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Rival group declares Boko Haram leader dead

Abubakar Shekau in a 2014 Boko Haram video. Associated Press

Rival group declares Boko Haram leader dead

Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram, died after detonating an explosive device, said Abu Musab al-Barnawi, leader of the rival Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). In an audio recording, al-Barnawi said the Islamic State leadership ordered his fighters to target Shekau. After fighting Boko Haram insurgents, the ISWAP tracked down Shekau and asked him to repent and join their ranks, al-Barnawi said. Instead Shekau blew himself up.

What have the authorities said? The Nigerian military said it is awaiting definitive evidence of his death. Boko Haram also has not confirmed his death. In the past, local media and authorities have reported his death only for Shekau to later show up in videos. Since Shekau took leadership of Boko Haram in 2009, the group has killed more than 30,000 people and staged mass attacks, including the Chibok kidnapping. ISWAP, an Islamic State affiliate, broke away from the terror group in 2016 due to internal differences. Shekau’s death, if confirmed, would see the ISWAP consolidate its grip on restive northeast Nigeria.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archive, read my report on Shekau’s proof-of-life video in 2016.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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