Nigeria's Boko Haram leader killed or badly wounded: Reports
Nigerian Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has been seriously wounded or killed after trying to commit suicide to avoid capture during clashes with rival terrorist groups in the north of the African country, two intelligence sources said Thursday.
Shekau's Boko Haram group and militants from the so-called ISWAP terror organization had been battling in northeastern Borno state, where ISWAP militants have become the dominant force in Africa’s most populous nation.
There is no confirmation of the claims, and Nigeria’s intelligence services and military have reported Shekau’s death many times before.
Shekau made international headlines when his men kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014.
After a series of clashes, Shekau and some of his fighters were surrounded on Wednesday by ISWAP militants in Boko Haram's Sambisa forest stronghold, where they demanded he surrender, one intelligence source said.
"To avoid capture, Shekau shot himself in the chest and the bullet pierced his shoulder," the source said, adding: "He was badly injured."
A second intelligence source said Shekau was critically wounded after detonating explosives in the house where he was holed up with his men.
"We are investigating," Nigeria's army spokesman Mohammed Yerima said about those reports.
Shekau's critical injury or death would further weaken Boko Haram, which has already been weakened by military air strikes on its bases and defections among his men.
More than 40,000 people have been killed and over two million displaced from their homes by the conflict in northeast Nigeria, and fighting has spread to parts of neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
Boko Haram and ISWAP have fought battles for control of territory in the past. ISWAP has emerged as the stronger force, carrying out complex attacks on the military and overrunning army bases.
Shekau took over Boko Haram after its founder Muhammad Yusuf was killed by police in 2009.
More than 30,000 people have been slaughtered and almost 3 million displaced in a decade of Boko Haram's violence in Nigeria, says the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Boko Haram’s harsh violence has spilled over into the neighboring countries of Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, which have come together to create a joint military force to fight the terrorists.
The presence of terrorist groups in Africa has been an excuse for global powers to re-enter these countries. This was seen in the French military intervention in Mali and the US military campaign in Somalia.