Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is dead, according to reports monitored online on Thursday.
According to HumAngle, the incident took place on Wednesday evening following the invasion of the terror group’s stronghold in the Sambisa forest area by a column of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters.
“ISWAP, which had broken away from the Shekau-led Boko Haram faction in 2016 after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), raided the group’s hideout using multiple gun trucks.
“Shekau’s enclave was tracked down by ISWAP using its forces based in the Timbuktu Triangle. His fighters were killed in the process, followed by a long gunfire exchange between the invading group and Shekau’s bodyguards.
“After his bodyguards were subdued, according to sources, Shekau surrendered and engaged in an hours-long meeting with the ISWAP fighters. During the parley, he was asked to voluntarily relinquish power and order his fighters in other areas to declare bai’a (allegiance) to ISWAP’s authority. They had expected Shekau to issue a statement.
“Sources within the insurgency, however, said that Shekau, who secretly had a suicide vest on his petson, eventually blew himself up alongside everyone present during the negotiations.
“The identities of the people within ISWAP’s leadership who lost their lives to the explosion remain unclear at this time,” the report said.
In another account by Arab News, Shekau is said to have been seriously wounded after trying to kill himself to avoid capture during clashes with rival Islamic State-allied jihadists in the north of the country.
According to the account, after a series of clashes, Shekau and some of his fighters were surrounded on Wednesday by ISWAP jihadists in Boko Haram’s Sambisa Forest stronghold where he was asked to surrender.
“However, the report continued, “to avoid capture, Shekau shot himself in the chest and the bullet pierced his shoulders…he was badly injured while some of his men escaped to unknown destination,” according to the account.
Another account said that Shekau was critically wounded after detonating explosives in the house where he was hold up with his men.
The account did not state whether he died, escaped or was captured alive by the rival terrorist group thereby fueling speculations that Shekau may have played another “Houdini” on Nigerians again; especially given that there is no footage of his remains at the time of filing this report.
Shekau had been the leader of Boko Haram since 2009 following the death of the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf. He had been rumoured to have been killed at least four times between July 2009 and Aug. 2015.
In August 2016, the Nigerian Air Force claimed he had been “fatally wounded” by military bombardments, but the terror group released a video only a month later showing he was alive and in good health.
It is estimated that over 40,000 persons have been killed while over two million have been displaced or rendered homeless since the conflict in northeast Nigeria which later spilled over to neighbouring African countries such as Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon.