THE warlord leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has blown himself up during a deadly shootout with rivals, say reports today.
Abubakar Shekau - once rejected by ISIS for being too radical - "killed himself" amid a bloody clash with the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
Reuters said it had heard an audio recording made by the ISWAP which said Shekau died during a battle sometime around May 18.
He was reportedly killed after detonating an explosive device, according to a person on the recording who identified himself as ISWAP leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
Shekau's apparent death marks a major shift in Nigeria's 12-year-old jihadist insurgency which has left 40,000 people dead and displaced around two million people.
Under Shekau, Boko Haram staged bombings, kidnappings and prison breaks.
And from 2014, it began overrunning towns in a bid to create an Islamic State under Sharia law.
Boko Haram has not yet officially commented on the death of its leader while the Nigerian army said it was investigating the claim.
"Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the hereafter to getting humiliated on Earth. He killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive," said the voice resembling that of al-Barnawi on the new recording.
He said his fighters had sought the warlord on orders of the ISIS leadership, chasing him and offering him the chance to repent and join them.
Warlord leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram ‘blows himself up’ in deadly clash with rivals
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