The Nigerian military said on Tuesday that airstrikes had killed and wounded several top Boko Haram commanders in the Sambisa Forest in the country’s northeast, where militants have been hiding for months.
Among the wounded was Abubakar Shekau, who took the helm of the group after the death of its founder in 2009, according to Col. Sani Usman, a military spokesman. The military’s attack took place Friday.
At least three other top commanders were killed in “the most unprecedented and spectacular air raid,” the military said.
Boko Haram leaders are thought to be holed up deep in the forest, and any reports of deaths or injuries to commanders were impossible to independently confirm.
The Nigerian military has been stepping up its offensive against Boko Haram even as the group appears to be fracturing. Shekau has taken to YouTube in recent weeks to air a theological spat with Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, who had previously been described as a spokesman for Boko Haram, over whether the group should refrain from targeting fellow Muslims with violence.
Earlier this month, Boko Haram released a video purporting to show the bodies of several of the 276 school girls who were kidnapped two years ago in Chibok.
New York Times