The leader of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) jihadist group, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, is dead, Chief of Defence Staff General Lucky Irabor, said on Thursday.
ISWAP has not given any confirmation of al-Barnawi’s death and the army has claimed before to have killed jihadist commanders only for them to reappear.
“I can authoritatively confirm to you that al-Barnawi is dead. As simple as that. He is dead and remains dead,” CDS Irabor told reporters.
He did not give details on how or when al-Barnawi had died.
Al-Barnawi is the son of the founder of Nigeria’s Boko Haram militant group which has been fighting a grinding Islamist insurgency in the northeast since 2009.
The ISWAP commander rose to prominence after splitting with Boko Haram in 2016 over differences with its commander Abubakar Shekau, who died earlier this year during infighting between the two factions.
Since Shekau’s death, security sources say, al-Barnawi had consolidated ISWAP’s control in the northeast and the Lake Chad region but pockets of Boko Haram loyalists have been fighting back.
More than 40,000 people have died in the Boko Haram conflict and around two million more people have been displaced from their homes by the violence.