Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau 'reported' dead

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau 'reported' dead

Abubakar Shekau, leader of rival Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram is dead, Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) said in an audio recording obtained by Reuters on Sunday.

Shekau died around May 18 after detonating an explosive device when he was being pursued by ISWAP fighters following a battle, a person purporting to be ISWAP leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi said on the audio recording.

Two people familiar with al-Barnawi told Reuters the voice on the recording was that of the ISWAP leader.

Neither Boko Haram nor the Nigerian government has confirmed his death.

"He killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive,” a voice believed to be that of Iswap leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi said in the recording that has gone viral.

"Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the afterlife than getting humiliated on earth," the voice went on.

Shekau took over the reins of Boko Haram in 2009 after its founder passed away in police custody and led the militia group from an unpopular group to a rebel group that has swept North-East Nigeria, BBC reports.

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

He has been reported dead severally, but he resurfaces in the long run.

Boko Haram gained universal attention in 2014 when it kidnapped girls from Nigeria’s Chibok school that elicited the #BringBackOurGirls movement to trend on social media.

Most of the girls have never been found to date.