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Nigerian general says leader of Islamic State West Africa is dead

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ABUJA, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s prime general stated on Thursday that Abu Musab al-Barnawi, leader of the rebel group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), was dead.

ISWAP is an offshoot of the Boko Haram rebel group that has been preventing in opposition to the Nigerian armed forces for 12 years. The two militant teams later turned on one another.

The battle between the insurgents and Nigeria’s armed forces, which has additionally unfold to neighbouring Chad and Cameroon, has left about 300,000 dead and hundreds of thousands depending on support.

“I can authoritatively confirm to you that Abu Musab is dead,” Lucky Irabor, the chief of defence employees, advised reporters on the presidential villa in Abuja, with out elaborating.

Al-Barnawi was initially half of Boko Haram, led by Abubakar Shekau, who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2015. But the next yr Islamic State named al-Barnawi as its leader in West Africa.

Shekau rejected his demotion and the 2 teams break up, with al-Barnawi transferring his ISWAP fighters to the shores of Lake Chad, the place they turned the dominant insurgency.

In June this yr, al-Barnawi introduced in an audio recording that his rival Shekau had died after detonating an explosive machine whereas being pursued by ISWAP fighters following a battle.

Since Shekau’s loss of life, the Nigerian armed forces say that 1000’s of Boko Haram fighters have surrendered to them.

In earlier years, the Nigerian authorities erroneously introduced Shekau’s loss of life a number of occasions.

The Daily Trust, a northern Nigerian newspaper, reported that al-Barnawi had died in late August, citing unnamed sources. It stated completely different sources had given completely different accounts of how the ISWAP leader had died.

The Nigerian authorities gave no additional particulars of the circumstances.

Reporting by Felix Onuah, writing by Estelle Shirbon, Editing by Andrew Heavens and Gareth Jones

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