NIGERIA — The leader of rival Nigerian militant Islamist group Abubakar Shekau has been reported dead. News of his death was shared in an audio recording by an alleged leader of the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP).
According to ISWAP leader, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, Shekau died around May 18 after detonating an explosive device when he was pursued by ISWAP fighters following a battle.
“Abubakar Shekau, God has judged him by sending him to heaven,” says al-Barnawi in the recording.
Shekau has severally been reported dead only to resurface in video posts. Reports of his death have been met with uncertainty considering the Nigerian military had in 2018 claimed his death.
Following rumours of his death, Nigeria’s military had last month said it was investigating the matter. The recent audio by ISWAP is the first confirmation of his death.
“Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the afterlife than getting humiliated on earth and he killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive,” says a voice believed to be that of al-Barnawi.
Boko Haram is a jihadist terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria, which is also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon.
The group gained global attention in 2014 after it kidnapped over 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok.
Around 100 of the Chibok Girls are still missing, and some are thought to have died in captivity.
Shekau was appointed leader of Islamists group Boko Haram in July 2009 after the death of Yusuf in the 2009 Boko Haram uprising.
The group has since killed more than 30,000 people, forced around 2 million people to flee their homes and spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
ISWAP on the other hand is arch rival to Boko Haram. Neither Boko Haram nor the Nigerian government have confirmed his death.