Nigerian military officials say at least three senior Boko Haram commanders and the group’s leader “Abubakar Shekau” have been killed in a latest round of airstrikes carried out by the Nigerian Air Force.
The Premium Times reports that military spokesman Col. Sani Usman explained that “the air interdiction took place last week Friday 19th August 2016, while the terrorists were performing Friday rituals at Taye,” a remote village located deep in the vast Sambisa forest. The forest currently serves as the insurgents’ last stronghold in the wake of renewed atttacks by the Nigerian forces in recent months.
In a press release, Col. Usman went on to give the names of the three Boko Haram commanders hit by the airstrikes, adding that “Abubakar Shekau” – the sect’s leader – had been critically wounded by the airstrikes also:
“Those Boko Haram terrorists commanders confirmed dead include Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu, and Malam Hamman, amongst others. While their leader, so-called ‘Abubakar Shekau,’ is believed to be fatally wounded on his shoulders. Several other terrorists were also wounded.”
The Nigerian military has long held the official position that “Abubakar Shekau”, the leader of the Boko Haram group is long dead, and military spokespersons have on more than one occasion announced his death.
However, “Abubakar Shekau” continues to appear in audio and video recordings released by the militant group, the latest being his appearance in a video released last month denouncing one Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the leader of a new Boko Haram splinter group that enjoys the recognition of Islamic State.
The Nigerian military maintains that this current “Abubakar Shekau” is little more than an impostor or a dummy for the long-dead Shekau.
Col. Usman said Friday’s airstrike by the air force was a resounding success in the fight against the Islamists, describing it as “the most unprecedented and spectacular air raid.” The Nigerian Air Force, along with the Nigerian Army and police, has been deeply involved in the fight against Boko Haram; however, Nigerian defence chiefs say the military’s aerial capabilities have been severely limited due to a lack of modern fighter jets and other necessary hardware.
All previous attempts to purchase such weapons from the United States or its allies have been blocked by the Leahy Law and its controversial application, which prevents the sale or export of weapons to any unit of the security forces of any country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights.