The report said the incident took place on Wednesday evening following the invasion of the terror group’s stronghold in the Sambisa forest area by a column of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters.
ISWAP, which had broken away from the Shekauled Boko Haram faction in 2016 after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), raided the group’s hideout using multiple gun trucks.
Shekau’s enclave, according to the report, was tracked down by ISWAP using its forces based in the Timbuktu Triangle.
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It said his fighters were killed in the process, followed by a long gunfire exchange between the invading group and Shekau’s bodyguards.
The report disclosed that after his bodyguards were subdued, Shekau surrendered and engaged in an hours-long meeting with the ISWAP fighters.
“During the parley, he was asked to voluntarily relinquish power and order his fighters in other areas to declare bai’a (allegiance) to ISWAP’s authority. They had expected Shekau to issue a statement.
“Sources within the insurgency, however, said that Shekau who secretly had a suicide vest on eventually blew himself up alongside everyone present during the negotiations.
“The identities of the people within ISWAP’s leadership who lost their lives to the explosion remain unclear at this time”, the report noted.
Shekau had been the leader of Boko Haram since 2009 following the death of the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf.
He had been rumoured to have been killed at least four times between July 2009 and Aug. 2015. In Aug.
2016, the Nigerian Air Force claimed he had been “fatally wounded” by military bombardments, but the terror group released a video only a month later showing he was alive and in good health.
The Sambisa forest area had been a stronghold of the Shekau-led Boko Haram group, also known as the Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah Wa’l-Jihad (JAS).
Although confrontation and skirmishes between the two rival factions (JAS and ISWAP) are common, the situation recently spiked to new levels.
The clashes, according to the monitoring of the group’s communications, followed attempts to advise Boko Haram about overusing takfir (non-believer) designations or doing so incorrectly.
Seizing Sambisa forest from JAS also holds the promise of offering increased protection to ISWAP fighters from military airstrikes, which its strongholds in the Lake Chad area are prone to.