NIGERIAN intelligence agencies are reporting that Boko Haram leader Sheikh Abubakar Shekau is dead claiming he blew himself up to avoid capture after losing a gun battle to fighters of the rival Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap).
Iswap broke away from Boko Haram and has operated as a rival group, with both laying claims to supremacy in the fight against the Nigerian state. According to intelligence sources, fighters from both groups clashed after the Iswap insurgents led by their commander Bana Duguri, stormed the Sambisa hideout of Boko Haram.
Nigeria’s defence headquarters has placed all commands and formations in Borno State on high alert amid fears the battle between Boko Haram and Iswap will continue. Sheikh Shekau was said to have blown himself to avoid being captured alive, although this is not the first time news about his death has been announced, with previous stories proving to be untrue.
Iswap, the Isis-backed splinter group, has grown in membership and influence of late and boasts of high-calibre weapons. It operates from territories around Lake Chad and now occupies some sections of the Sambisa Forest.
One intelligence report read: “On 19th May 2021, at about 18.29 hours, Iswap top fighter Bana Duguri on this selector, geo-located around Sambisa Forest in Pulka in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State, informed Iswap logistics commander Modu Sulum, geo-located opposite General Hospital in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State that they killed Abubakar Shekau the overall Boko Haram leader in Sambisa Forest. Duguri disclosed that the Iswap fighters team surrounded the Boko Haram leader with his team and shooting ensued between the two factions.
Duguri further added that Shekau detonated a bomb and killed himself when he observed that the Iswap fighters wanted to capture him alive. Furthermore, Duguri informed Sulum that the two sides also lost some fighters during the shooting.
He averred that even yesterday, Iswap was pursuing Abubakar Shekau who discarded his cap and ran but today the pursuit continued and he was finally killed. Duguri asked Modu Sulum if the other Boko Haram members who fled are returning to their houses?
“In his response, Sulum rejoiced over the death of Abubakar Shekau and glorified God over the success. He also said a few Boko Haram members are returning to their houses.”