Shekau is dead – confirms Boko Haram
Boko Haram has confirmed that its chief, Abubakar Shekau, is dead. Sources say he died during infighting with a rival Islamic State-allied faction, according to a video message from its presumed new commander.
In the short video made in Arabic, a top Boko Haram commander Bakura Modu urged his faction’s commanders to remain loyal despite the loss of their historic commander.
Shekau’s death was viewed as a major shift in Nigeria’s conflict, though the Islamic State in West Africa Province or ISWAP has recently emerged as the dominant force in the more than decade-long Islamist insurgency in the country’s northeast.
The video, provided to AFP by a source close to Boko Haram and confirmed to be Bakura Modu by another local source, illustrates that jihadist infighting is far from over in Africa’s most populous nation.
Shekau, who gained notoriety after kidnapping nearly 300 schoolgirls in 2014, killed himself last month rather than surrender after IS-allied rivals attacked his base camp in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state, security sources said.
In the audio, ISWAP commander Abu Musab Al-Barnawi had already claimed Shekau killed himself while on the run from ISWAP fighters.
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The updated Boko Haram video shows Bakura flanked by scores of armed fighters information as he addresses the camera, in what is traditionally a jihadist group’s way of presenting a new leader.
“Commanders of Jama’atu Ahlu Sunna Lidda’awati Wal Jihad. Be steadfast and draw your swords, spreading your jihad, decapitating the enemy,” he said, using the official name of Shekau’s Boko Haram faction also known as JAS.
“Don’t allow what befalls you these days to weaken your resolve on the jihad you are waging, because Allah has not forsaken your efforts.”
He urged the Boko Haram commanders to reject ISWAP commander Barnawi.
Soon after the initial reports of Shekau’s death last month, infighting between Nigeria’s two rival jihadist factions intensified.
ISWAP fighters moved against the commanders of the terrorist group who refused to surrender and join their ranks, intelligence sources have said.
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