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Nigerian military claims to have killed Boko Haram leader Shekau

Nigeria's military has said its security forces mortally wounded the leader of insurgent group Boko Haram in late June. However, a video released earlier this month appears to show the same man alive and well.

In a statement released on Monday, the Nigerian military said it had received intelligence of the probable death of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of an Islamist insurgency group responsible for numerous acts of terrorism and thousands of deaths in Nigeria.

"[Our information] revealed that Abubakar Shekau, the most dreaded and wanted Boko Haram Terrorists leader may have died," the statement said.

The statement said that Shekau had been shot during a June 30 clash with troops in northeast Nigeria, where the government had launched a crackdown against insurgents. Shekau was later transported across the border to Cameroon, where he was believed to have passed away between July 25 and August 3, the military said.

However, a video released on August 12 cast doubt over the intelligence report. A man who appeared to be Shekau refuted earlier speculation that he had died in the fighting. He also referred to attacks which occurred in early August, ruling out that the video had been recorded before his supposed death.

The military rejected the speculation and stood by its announcement.

"The recent video ... by the purported sect leader was dramatized by an imposter to hoodwink the sect members to continue with the terrorism and to deceive the undiscerning minds," it said.

Shekau rose to the top of Boko Haram after the group's previous leader Mohammed Yusuf died while in police custody in 2009. The United States has declared him a global terrorist and placed a bounty of $7 million (5.3 million euros) on his head.

Some 3,600 people, including security forces, have lost their lives in Boko Haram attacks, which the militant groups have been carrying out with increasing frequency since 2009 in an attempt to gain control of the oil-rich country and impose Shariah law. Christians and Muslims each comprise almost exactly half of Nigeria's 160-million-population.

kms/ (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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