The leader of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram is dead, a rival militant group said in an audio recording heard by Reuters on Sunday.
The leader of The Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) reportedly said that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau killed himself with explosives last monthafter a battle between the two groups.
“Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the afterlife than get humiliated on Earth, and he killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive.”
Boko Haram’s leader has been reported killed on several occasions over the last 12 years.
But two sources familiar with the matter confirmed the news came from ISWAP leader himself, Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
It’s also been confirmed by a Nigerian intelligence report shared by a government official and Boko Haram researchers.
Political analysts say Shekau’s death could lead to the end of a violent rivalry between the two groups, enabling ISWAP to lure over Boko Haram fighters and consolidate its hold on northeastern Nigeria.
ISWAP was previously part of Boko Haram before it split off five years ago, after it objected to Boko Haram’s killing of civilians.
In 2014, Boko Haram grabbed headlines worldwide after kidnapping more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, sparking a global campaign for their return.
Around 100 of the Chibok Girls are still missing, and some are thought to have died in captivity.
Boko Haram has killed more than 30,000 people, forced around 2 million people to flee their homes and spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.