The leader of Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, killed himself during a fight, its rival jihadist group said in an audio recording.
In a recording obtained by news agencies, the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) said that Shekau “killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive” following a battle between the two groups.
A voice believed to be belonging to ISWAP Leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi said in the recording that Shekau died around May 18 when ISWAP fighters hunted him down.
Al-Barnawi described how his fighters entered Boko Haram’s enclave in the Sambia forest and found Shekau in his house. After exchanging fire, ISWAP offered Shekau to join them but blew himself up instead.
“Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the afterlife than getting humiliated on earth,” al-Barnawi can be heard saying in the recording.
ISWAP did not provide supporting evidence to verify their claim.
Boko Haram has not confirmed Shekau’s death, while the Nigerian army said it was investigating.
Shekau has been reported to be dead several times before, including last May, only to resurface.
ISWAP broke away from Boko Haram five years ago and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State due to religious ideological disagreements over Boko Haram’s killings of Muslim civilians and the use of female suicide bombers, which ISWAP reportedly objected to.
Boko Haram is responsible for numerous bombings, kidnappings, and prison breaks in northeastern Nigeria, as well as in Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. Since Shekau took charge of the group after its founder died from police custody, they have killed around 30,000 people with their terror activities and displaced two million from their homes, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.