By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - The leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, whose group killed or kidnapped thousands of Christians, has committed suicide, rival Islamist militants say.
Abubakar Shekau killed himself after detonating explosives on himself following a battle between the two groups, claimed the Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap).
However, Shekau was reported dead last month and has been reported killed before.
Neither Boko Haram nor the Nigerian government has confirmed or denied his death raising questions about his whereabouts.
In an undated audio recording sent to news agencies, a voice thought to be that of Iswap leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi said Shekau "killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive".
If confirmed, it wasn’t immediately clear whether the situation would improve for Christians in several parts of Nigeria where Boko Haram has been active.
The latest figures seen by Worthy News Monday show that 1,470 Christians were murdered and over 2,200 abducted by Islamic fighters in the first four months of 2021.
Boko Haram and other Islamic jihadists are the main perpetrators as part of efforts to impose their Islamist ideology, according to several sources.
The number of Christians murdered within the first four months of this year is the highest since 2014, said a Nigerian civil society group, Intersociety Rule of Law (IROL).
The death toll also goes beyond the total number of Christians killed in 2019.
The group has accused the Nigerian government of playing down the violence in raids, especially northern and central areas, as “herder-farmer clashes.” “The Nigerian Government and Governments of the affected States have made several deliberate attempts to cover the egregious and grisly massacre of Christians in Nigeria,” the group noted.
They are “falsely labeling them as ‘herders-farmers clashes,’ or attacks by “bandits,” or ‘killings that cut across Muslims and Christians,” the IROL complained.