28, August 2016
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has confirmed that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group, has been injured in an airstrike. “We learned that in an airstrike by the Nigeria air force he was wounded,” Buhari said in a statement on Sunday from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, where he is attending a development conference.
The Nigerian president also stated that Boko Haram militants are in disarray and the group no longer holds any territory in Nigeria. “Indeed their top hierarchy and lower cadre have a problem,” Buhari said, adding, “They are not holding any territory and they have split into small groups attacking soft targets.” Last week, Nigeria’s armed forces said Shekau was wounded in an airstrike on Boko Haram’s forest stronghold. The Nigerian army released no further statement or evidence confirming his condition.
Buhari, however, said he was prepared to talk with leaders of the militants to negotiate the release of 218 girls captured in 2014. Buhari said Shekau had been “edged out” of the group. In early August, the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group purportedly appointed a new leader for Boko Haram, its Nigeria-based affiliate.
According to Daesh-linked media, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, a former spokesman for Boko Haram, has replaced Shekau, who had been in charge since 2009. It was not clear why the change has taken place.
Shekau later released an audio message saying, “People should know we are still around,” apparently defying Daesh and the decision to oust him. Barnawi claimed his group remains “a force to be reckoned with,” adding that the fight would go on against West African countries. Boko Haram started a campaign of militancy in Nigeria in 2009 with the aim of toppling the central government.