A senior Nigerian army official announced on Thursday (October 14th) the death of the leader of the Nigerian jihadist group Iswap, affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group, Abu Musab al-Barnawi.

"I can say with certainty that al-Barnawi is dead," Chief of Staff General Lucky Irabor told reporters.

He did not specify the circumstances of the death of the jihadist leader, already given for dead by the Nigerian authorities in the past.

Iswap in question

Iswap (Islamic State in West Africa) has not confirmed the death of Al-Barnawi.

Recognized by the Islamic State, this group was born in 2016 from a split with the other Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram, which it accuses in particular of the murders of Muslim civilians.

After gaining strength, Iswap became the dominant jihadist group in northeastern Nigeria, stepping up attacks on the Nigerian army.

It has consolidated its control in the region since the death in May of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in clashes between the two rival groups.

Since the latter's death, according to security sources, Abu Musab al-Barnawi has also strengthened Iswap's control in the Lake Chad region, where Boko Haram loyalists are still fighting him.

"If Al-Barnawi is dead, his death may not have too much of an impact on Iswap due to the structure of the group," said Malik Samuel, researcher at the Institute for Security Studies.

Since the split with Boko Haram, Iswap has undergone about five leadership changes, but it has continued its deadly attacks on the security forces.

Abu Musab al-Barnawi is the son of the founder of the Boko Haram group, Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in custody in 2009 in Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria.

Islamist uprising

Last September, Iswap fighters killed 16 soldiers in an ambush in northeastern Borno state, one of the deadliest attacks this year against the Nigerian armed forces, which are struggling to defeat an Islamist insurgency. having killed more than 40,000 people in 12 years.

The jihadists detonated roadside bombs before opening fire with rocket launchers on the military convoy traveling between the capital of Borno state and the garrison town of Monguno, said. the sources

A week later, eight soldiers were killed by members of Iswap who opened fire with rockets at another convoy also in Borno state.

But Boko Haram jihadists also launched an attack last September against Iswap fighters in their stronghold on the Nigerian shore of Lake Chad, seizing a strategic island, according to a security source and fishermen.

Since the death of Abubakar Shekau in the Sambisa forest, Iswap has been fighting Boko Haram members who have refused to swear allegiance to him.

Several hundred members of Boko Haram surrendered to the Nigerian army, along with their families, including their children.

Since the start of the radical Islamist rebellion of Boko Haram in 2009 in northeast Nigeria, the conflict has forced nearly two million people to leave their homes.

With AFP

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Keywords: abu musab al-barnawi, iswap, nigerian, army, leader, death, lucky irabor, split, west africa, jihadist group, fighters, members, abubakar shekau, mohammed yusuf, region