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ISWAP: How Boko Haram leader Shekau died

The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has killed himself, a rival militant group said in an audio recording.

In the audio, obtained by news agencies, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) said Shekau died detonating explosives on himself after a battle between the two groups.

Shekau was reported dead last month and has been reported killed before.

Neither Boko Haram nor the Nigerian government have confirmed his death.

In the undated audio recording, a voice thought to be that of ISWAP leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi said Shekau “killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive”.

“God has judged him by sending him to heaven,” he said, according to a transcript from the AFP news agency.

When reports of Shekau’s death in a clash circulated last month, the Nigerian army said it would investigate.

Army spokesman Brig Gen Mohammed Yerima told the BBC the army was looking into what happened, but that it would not issue a statement until it got definitive proof.

One journalist with close links to security agencies said that Shekau died when ISWAP attacked Boko Haram positions in the Sambisa forest, north-east Nigeria.

He has been reported dead numerous times before only to resurface.

Shekau took over Boko Haram after its founder Muhammad Yusuf was killed by police in 2009.

Since then, more than 40,000 people have been killed and over two million displaced from their homes in the deadly insurgency in north-east Nigeria.

Over the past decade, Boko Haram militants have been most active in the region.

It was from a school in Chibok, in Borno state, that hundreds of girls were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014, and many of them remain missing. Another mass kidnapping of schoolchildren also took place in 2018 in Yobe, another north-eastern state.

ISWAP broke away from Boko Haram in 2016. (BBC)

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