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Boko Haram chief denies death

August 17, 2015

In an audio message, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the terror group Boko Haram, has denied he has been killed or ousted. Chad's premier had claimed that Shekau was replaced by a leader open to talks.

Abubakar Shekau
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo

The eight-minute audio message released on social media was Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau's first public message since he pledged allegiance to the "Islamic State" group in March.

"It is indeed all over the global media of infidels that I am dead or that I am sick and incapacitated and have lost influence in the affairs of religion," Shekau announced in the message. "It should be understood that this is false. This is indeed a lie. If it were true, my voice wouldn't have been heard, now that I am speaking."

Boko Haram has been waging a six-year uprising against the Nigerian state and in recent months has extended attacks into border areas ofneighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Coalition force

Nigeria, with its three neighbors and Benin, has committed troops toward a regional 8,700-strong force aimed at ending the Boko Haram assaults.

In a radio broadcast last Wednesday, Chadian leader Idriss Deby said Shekau had been replaced. He indicated that even if the Boko Haram leader was still alive, he may have a rival for control of the group, which is believed to be made up of several factions.

Deby led a failed attempt at negotiations with Boko Haram last year. He said Boko Haram's new leader was "someone apparently called Mahamat Daoud," who was open to talks.

The Chadian leader said the five-nation coalition force would be deployed within days. He predicted it would destroy Boko Haram by the end of the year.

But, taunting both the Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari and Chad in his message, Shekau said: "Gratitude be to Allah and with his help, I have not disappeared. I am still alive and I am not dead. And I will not die until my time appointed by Allah is up."

jm/bw (AFP, Reuters)