The Nigerian army has announced that it suspects that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, has died of wounds he received during a fire fight with army forces in late June. According to the army’s announcement, Shekau was wounded during a clash with Nigerian forces on June 30. He likely survived the clash, but died a month later due to complications. In its attempt to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram has terrorized the Christian community living in the north. Targeted for church bombings and drive-by shootings, Christian living in northern Nigeria have been forced to live in a constant state of fear. Will Boko Haram’s capability now be diminished with the death of its leader?
8/20/2013 Nigeria (Bloomberg) – Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Nigerian Boko Haram group that’s waging a violent campaign to establish an Islamic state in Africa’s largest oil producer, is probably dead, the country’s military said.
Shekau was hurt on June 30 in a clash with security forces in the northeast Sambisa forest, Sagir Musa, a spokesman for the military task force fighting the militants, said today in an e-mailed statement, citing intelligence reports. He provided no evidence to support his claim.
“Shekau was mortally wounded in the encounter and was sneaked into Amitchide, a border community in Cameroon, for treatment,” Musa said. “Shekau might have died between July 25 and Aug. 3.”
The army appealed to the Islamist fighters “to lay down their arms and embrace the Federal Government’s offer for dialogue.”
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language, has killed thousands in gun and bomb attacks since 2009 in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja, most of them Christians. Nigeria’s more than 160 million people are roughly equally split between Christians, predominant in the south, and Muslims.
On Aug. 14, Nigeria’s Defense Ministry said the group’s second in command, Momodu Bama, was killed in clashes with security forces. Bama’s death “has been confirmed by other arrested terrorists,” ministry spokesman Chris Olukolade said at the time. That claim has not been independently verified.
In a video e-mailed on Aug. 12, Shekau claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Borno and Yobe states and said the group’s strength hadn’t been dented by a government campaign against it. Three months earlier, President Goodluck Jonathan declared emergency rule in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, giving the armed forces sweeping powers to try to quell the group’s activities.