The Nigerian army claims to have “fatally wounded” the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, in an air strike targeting a meeting of the Islamist group’s commanders, according to a report in the Independent.
Shekau and other senior militants had gathered for prayers on Friday when they were hit by what the Nigerian army called an “air force raid”.
It said a number of commanders were confirmed dead, naming them as Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman, and said Shekau was “believed to be fatally wounded on his shoulders”.
Sani Kukasheka Usman, a colonel and acting director of army public relations, described the strikes as “the most unprecedented and spectacular air raid”.
He said the raid took place “while the terrorists were performing Friday rituals” at Taye village, Gombale general area within Sambisa forest, Borno State. “Several other terrorists were wounded,” he said.
It is not the first time the Nigerian army has reported the death of Shekau, who led a break-away faction of Boko Haram when the main bulk of the group declared allegiance to Isis.
Shekau’s death was reported in 2013 and again in September 2014. A month later, Shekau released a video saying: “Here I am, alive. I will only die the day Allah takes my breath.” The Nigerian army amended its report to say it believed a double for Shekau going by the name Isa Damsaka had been killed instead.
The leader last appeared in a video released earlier this month, in which he threatened a major attack on the city of Abuja.