Intelligence officers in Nigeria have claimed the chief of Boko Haram is useless or severely wounded after attempting to kill himself to keep away from seize throughout clashes with a rival extremist faction.
There isn’t any affirmation of the claims, and Nigeria’s intelligence providers and army have reported Abubakar Shekau’s demise many instances earlier than.
However that is the primary time that reviews have described Shekau – who gained international infamy with the kidnapping of almost 300 feminine college students from a university in 2014 – as dying in combating with different militants.
Nigerian intelligence officers have informed reporters that Shekau and a few of his fighters have been surrounded on Wednesday by fighters from the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (Iswap), who attacked in dozens of pickup vans outfitted with heavy weapons. In line with the officers, after killing a lot of his bodyguards, the Iswap fighters demanded that Shekau swear an oath of allegiance to Iswap’s chief, Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
After an hour of negotiation, Shekau used both a gun, grenade or a suicide belt to try to take his personal life, the officers stated. “To keep away from seize, Shekau shot himself within the chest and the bullet pierced his shoulder,” one intelligence official stated, including: “He was badly injured.”
A second intelligence supply claimed Shekau was critically wounded after detonating explosives in the home the place he was holed up together with his males.
Nigeria’s military and officers in Abuja, the capital, didn’t instantly reply to requests for affirmation of the incident.
The teams have been sparring with extra depth and it was clear if it obtained to a showdown, Boko Haram have much less firepower and skill,” stated a neighborhood authorities official in Borno State, the place the insurgents are strongest. “We have now to attend to see if the reviews [of Shekau’s death] are credible.”
The offensive by Iswap started earlier this 12 months however was paused in the course of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. There seems to have been little resistance this week because the group superior into the Sambisa Forest, an unlimited tract of bush and woodland, and a longtime stronghold of Boko Haram.
The brand new offensive has underlined the dominance of Iswap, which has been combating in Nigeria for a number of years however has by no means tried such an formidable assault in opposition to its rivals.
Analysts say Iswap and different official associates of Islamic State now management vital territory and populations throughout the Sahel area. The transfer into Sambisa Forest provides Iswap management over a sizeable a part of the north-eastern Borno state and a lot of the roads into the regional capital of Maiduguri.
Nigerian safety forces have did not reclaim the Sambisa Forest for the federal government throughout years of combating. A brand new stronghold for Iswap there would anchor a sequence of linked territories run by Isis-affiliated factions that stretches so far as the Libyan border with few breaks.
Iswap is now again below the management of Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the son of a radical cleric whose demise by the hands of safety forces in 2009 was the spark the insurgency in north-east Nigeria.
Boko Haram has been weakened by army airstrikes on its bases, defections and heavy losses inflicted by troops in neighbouring Chad.
Early this week, the Nigerian army claimed it had killed 40 Boko Haram members in shelling in Konduga in Borno state. There was no affirmation out there and the Nigerian army usually make exaggerated claims.
“If true, Shekau’s demise might be an enormous turning level,” stated Bulama Bukarti, an analyst within the Extremism Coverage Unit of the Tony Blair Institute for World Change, who described Shekau because the world’s longest-lasting terrorist chief. Nonetheless, Bukarti stated his demise wouldn’t spell the tip of Boko Haram.
“It is going to be a unfavorable growth for Boko Haram – and constructive for the Lake Chad area – if the demise of Shekau worsens the [Boko Haram’s] factional dispute. It is going to nonetheless be a constructive growth for the group if this results in a reunification of the group.”
Iswap has proved the extra succesful and disciplined pressure in recent times, finishing up advanced assaults on the army and overrunning military bases.
Shekau took over Boko Haram, formally generally known as the Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, after its founder, Muhammad Yusuf, was killed by police in 2009.
Underneath Shekau’s management, Boko Haram turned massive swathes of north-east Nigeria right into a no-go territory for the authorities, proclaiming a “caliphate” within the Borno city of Gwoza in 2014.
An offensive since 2015 by Nigerian troops backed by troopers from Cameroon, Chad and Niger drove jihadists from a lot of the space that that they had as soon as managed.
Shekau established a fame for unpredictable violence that involved even hardened extremists.
Angered by Shekau’s indiscriminate focusing on of civilians and use of girls and youngsters suicide bombers, a rival faction broke away in 2016 and with the backing of Isis fashioned Iswap.
Greater than 40,000 individuals have been killed and greater than 2 million displaced from their houses by the battle in north-east Nigeria, and combating has unfold to components of neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger.