Nige­ria air strike kills top Boko Haram fight­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

ABUJA — The leader of the Boko Haram group is be­lieved to be fa­tally wounded in an air strike car­ried out by the Nige­rian mil­i­tary in the coun­try’s north-east, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports cit­ing se­nior of­fi­cial sources.

The re­port said a num­ber of fight­ers were tar­geted last week in the Sam­bisa for­est near Gam­baru in Borno state, near the border with Cameroon.

“Their leader, so called ‘Abubakar Shekau’, is be­lieved to be fa­tally wounded on his shoul­ders,” the state­ment re­leased yes­ter­day from army spokesper­son Colonel Sani Kukasheka Us­man added.

Us­man also said three Boko Haram com­man­ders Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Ham­man, were con­firmed dead with sev­eral oth­ers wounded.

Al Jazeera’s, Ahmed Idris, re­port­ing from Abuja, said the airstrike hap­pened when fight­ers had gath­ered for “some sort of a cer­e­mony”.

“The attack hap­pened on Fri­day on Shekau’s camp. We know that the Chi­bok girls are held at the Shekau camp to which the Nige­ria army said that they are do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to res­cue them,” our cor­re­spon­dent said.

The claim comes as US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry vis­its the coun­try for talks likely to fo­cus on the fight against Boko Haram, which launched an up­ris­ing in 2009.

Nige­rian forces, with the sup­port of re­gional troops, have re­cently re­cap­tured swathes of ter­ri­tory lost to the fight­ers.

The mys­te­ri­ous Shekau’s fate has been the sub­ject of spec­u­la­tion re­cently amid claims he had been re­placed by Sheikh Abu Musab al-Bar­nawi, the group’s for­mer spokesper­son.

Bar­nawi’s ap­point­ment was con­tained in a mag­a­zine is­sued by the ISIL to which Boko Haram pledged al­le­giance in March last year.

But only a week later, the shad­owy Shekau sur­faced in a video posted on so­cial me­dia, ridi­cul­ing sug­ges­tions of his death and look­ing more com­posed and en­er­getic than in pre­vi­ous ap­pear­ances.

The mil­i­tary has re­ported Shekau’s death in the past, only to have a man pur­port­ing to be him ap­pear later, ap­par­ently un­harmed, mak­ing video state­ments. There was no im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion from the group. Boko Haram, which seeks to im­pose a strict Is­lamic law in Nige­ria’s mainly-Mus­lim north, has killed some 20 000 peo­ple and forced at least 2.6 mil­lion oth­ers to flee their homes since 2009. — Al­jazeeera.

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