By Nkoli Opara (AGENDAWATCHDOG) – The Nigerian military is probing the news of the death of Abubakar Shekau, head of extremist Islamist group Boko Haram, who was reportedly killed during a faceoff with a factional group.
This comes in the wake of plethora of news reports published on Thursday on both traditional and social media channels, citing intelligence sources, claiming that Shekau was seriously hurt or killed during a clash between members of his group and those of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a rival faction that split from his group in 2016.
According to a Nigerian Army spokesman, Mohammed Yerima, the military was looking into the reports, which he desecribed as rumours until authenticated.
Shekau was said to have been killed on several occasions over the last 12 years, including in announcements by the military, only to later appear in a video post. He has been the figurehead of an Islamist insurgency that has since 2009 killed more than 30,000 people, forced around 2 million people to flee their homes and spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.ISWAP was previously part of Shekau’s militant Islamist group before it broke away five years ago, pledging allegiance to Islamic State.
The schism was due to religious ideological disagreements over the killing of civilians by Boko Haram, to which ISWAP objected.