Two intel sources cited that Nigerian Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is “badly wounded” after he attempts suicide to avoid capture during clashes with rival Islamic-allied jihadists in the north.
Shekau’s Boko Haram group and fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province remain in clashes in Northeastern Borneo State where ISWAP rebels have been the main force in Nigeria‘s jihadist insurgency over 10 years ago.
Shekau and a few of his men were besieged by ISWAP jihadists in Sambisa, Boko Haram’s forest stronghold on May 19, Wednesday, where they demanded he surrenders.
According to the source, “Shekau shot himself in the chest and the bullet pierced his shoulder,” adding, “He was badly injured.” Moreover, Shekau’s men managed to escape with the Boko Haram leader to an unknown location.
Shekau was in critical condition after setting off bombs in the building where he and his men were holed up, according to a second intel. Requests for confirmation of the incident were not immediately responded to by the Nigerian army or authorities.
Shekau’s condition will be a major setback for the faction, which has already been battered by military raids.
The violence in northeast Nigeria has claimed over 40,000 lives and forced over two million residents to evacuate. According to reports, the war has extended to neighboring Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.
In the past, Boko Haram and ISWAP battled for dominance of territories.
ISWAP took advantage of most of its forces while carrying out intricate military operations and occupying military facilities
After its leader Muhammad Yusuf died in 2009, Shekau took control of Boko Haram. Under Shekau’s rule, he declared a “caliphate” in Gwoza in 2014.
Since 2015, a Nigerian offensive backed by soldiers from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger has driven jihadists out of the majority of the territory they once occupied.
In 2014 Shekau and his faction abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls in Chibok. A rival party, enraged by Shekau’s indiscriminate killing of civilians and use of women and children as suicide bombers, split off in 2016 to form ISWAP, which has the support of the ISIS alliance.
Shekau has been declared dead on many occasions since Boko Haram’s uprising started in 2009.
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