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Abubakar Shekau: Leader of Boko Haram died detonating explosives on himself, rival militant group claims

The leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has killed himself, rival Islamist militants claimed in an audio recording.

In a widely circulated audio clip the Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) said Shekau died detonating explosives on himself after a battle between the two groups.

Shekau was reported dead last month and has been reported killed before. Neither Boko Haram nor the Nigerian government have confirmed his death.




WHO IS ABUBAKAR SHEKAU?

After taking the reins of Boko Haram after its founder died in police custody in 2009, Shekau led its transformation from an underground sect to a deadly insurgency that has swept north-east Nigeria.

Under Shekau, Boko Haram staged bombings, kidnappings and prison breaks across the region. And from 2014, it began overrunning towns in a bid to create an Islamic State under Sharia law.



Believed to be in his early- to mid-40s, Shekau backed a bloody jihadist campaign in propaganda videos that drew comparisons to Osama Bin Laden.

“I enjoy killing… the way I enjoy slaughtering chickens and rams,” he said in one 2012 video.

Since he took charge, more than 30,000 people have been killed and over two million displaced from their homes.

The group gained global attention after its 2014 kidnapping of hundreds of girls from a school in Chibok, in Borno state, sparking the #BringBackOurGirls movement. Many of them are still missing.

Soon after, the US declared Shekau a “global terrorist” and placed a $7 million bounty on his head.

Shekau’s agenda was so radical that he was rejected by Islamic State, which split from Boko Haram to form Iswap in 2016.