The shadowy Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau appeared in a new video published online on Thursday, rejecting claims he had been injured in an airstrike in northeast Nigeria . . .
Shekau was said to have been wounded and one of his deputies killed when two Nigerian Air Force (NAF) jets bombarded Boko Haram fighters at Balla village near the infamous Sambisa Forest (former Boko Haram stronghold) in Borno state, last Friday. NAF released a surveillance footage which showed missiles being fired on what the air force said were Boko Haram fighters.
Photo: A Nigerian Air Force surveillance video screengrab of an airstrike on a Boko Haram location in Northeast Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army announced it had “neutralized quite a number of terrorists” in Balla. NA said, inter alia:
“There were indications that quite a number of the terrorists’ key leaders have either been killed or wounded,” army spokesman Brigadier-General Sani Usman said earlier Thursday, without naming Shekau.
But in a 14-minute video, Shekau who spoke in Hausa and Arabic claimed ignorance of both the incident and the location, insisting he was not injured and that none of his key lieutenants were harmed either.
The Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, wearing his trademark camouflage jacket and cradling an assault rifle said, inter alia:
“I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive. You have not killed any of my men. I didn’t even know this incident you are talking about ever happened. What surprises me is your claim that I’m nursing wounds. Look at me well. Look at my sitting posture . . . “
In the video, Shekau was flanked by two masked, armed men, sitting against what appeared to be a desert camouflage net and Boko Haram’s black and white insignia.
A source with links to the Islamist militants told AFP on Wednesday that Shekau narrowly escaped death when the second missile hit as he was on his way to preach at Friday prayers.
“It’s bloody propaganda,” he said of Shekau’s video denial. Shekau hurt his back from the impact of the second strike. He was injured in the back and then taken out of the area to a place around Kolofata (near the Cameroon border),” he added.
“You can see he is not the same Shekau we were seeing in other videos. He didn’t exude the same energy.”
There was no indication where the video was shot.