The Islamic State militant group in West Africa Province (Iswap) said in audio recordings obtained by AFP and Reuters news agencies on Sunday that Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Nigerian Islamic faction Boko Haram, s ‘had committed suicide during a fight between members of the two groups. .
A person who identifies himself as the leader of Iswap, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, says in the recording that Shekau died on May 18 after detonating an explosive while being pursued by rivals.
“Abubakar Shekau, God judged you by sending you to paradise,” said the man. “Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the Hereafter to be humiliated on Earth, and he killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive.”
In the recording, he explains that his fighters were chasing Shekau on orders from the group’s leadership. The Boko Haram leader was reportedly offered the opportunity to surrender and join Iswap, but the offer was turned down.
Last month, Nigerian authorities produced an intelligence report indicating that Shekau was dead or, at the very least, seriously injured. According to the document, Iswap’s activists demanded that Shekau take an oath of loyalty to Al-Barnawi.
What happened next has two different versions: in one of them, the leader of Boko Haram allegedly used a weapon, a grenade or some sort of belt to kill himself. Another version, according to British newspaper The Guardian, is more similar to the audio report released on Sunday, saying Shekau detonated explosives in the house where he was hiding with his men.
Political analysts believe Shekau’s death could end a bitter rivalry between the two groups, allowing Iswap to absorb Boko Haram fighters and consolidate its hold in northeast Nigeria. This would allow Iswap to concentrate its action on the government and the Armed Forces, whose war efforts are running out.
Shekau, whose death has been announced on other occasions, is held responsible for transforming Boko Haram from an underground Islamic sect in 2009 into a full-fledged insurgency, killing, kidnapping and looting in the northeast. Nigeria.
The group is estimated to have killed more than 30,000 people, forced around 2 million people to flee their homes and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
Iswap was already part of Boko Haram, but five years ago he parted ways with it and swore allegiance to the Islamic State – the split occurred due to differences over the group’s killing of civilians.