Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the notorious Nigerian rebel movement Boko Haram is dead, reports the Wall Street Journal based on multiple sources in, among others, the intelligence community. On Thursday it was reported that the leader of the terrorist organization was seriously injured in a suicide attempt to prevent rival jihadists from capturing him.
Five Nigerian officials have confirmed to the newspaper that Shekau blew herself up with a suicide vest. He is described as one of the most cruel and effective terrorists in the world, who triggered a religious war in Nigeria and three neighbouring countries.
48-year-old Shekau led Boko Haram since 2009, and the extremist Islamist movement became known for the abduction of nearly 300 schoolchildren.
Boko Haram is also accused of using children for suicide attacks. The group is held responsible for many attacks and tens of thousands of deaths in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad. Two to three million people have been displaced.
Shekau wanted to stay out of the hands of the jihadist group ISWAP, Islamic State in West Africa, which was previously part of his group. An intelligence source said on Thursday that fighters of that rival movement had surrounded Shekau and his men in a forest.
The Nigerian government has wrongly declared him dead several times before. The army announced Friday to investigate reports of his death.