Boko Haram members surrender to Nigerian military after 'leader killed'

The group sparked an international outcry when it kidnapped 200 schoolgirls

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The Independent Online

More than 130 members of the Boko Haram terrorist group have surrendered to Nigeria's military.

Mohammed Bashir, a man who had posed as the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau in numerous videos, was also been killed in clashes, the military said on Wednesday.

Defence spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade said: “In the course of those encounters, one Mohammed Bashir, who has been acting or posing on videos as the deceased Abubakar Shekau ... known as leader of the group, died.”

Following the surrender, Nigeria's military has released photographs of dozens of detainees sitting on the floor and the alleged body of the leader.

Over the past five years, the group has killed thousands of people in guerrilla attacks on military installations and against civilians. In the past two months, its ambitions have grown as it has started to seize and hold ground in Nigeria.

After members of the extremist group seized several small towns and declared the area an Isis-style ‘Islamic Caliphate’, Nigeria’s army stepped up its military operations in the rural northeast.

The Nigerian army said that 135 Boko Haram fighters had handed their weapons to troops on Tuesday in the town of Biu, near the epicentre of Boko Haram’s campaign to carve out an extremist Islamist state.

Reports from BBC News citing the country’s military claimed the number was as high as 260, as a further 133 members reportedly surrendered in north-eastern Nigeria.

Last August, Nigeria's military said Shekau may have died of gunshot wounds some weeks after a clash with soldiers.

Following the reports, the man appearing in Boko Haram videos appeared to look different, with a rounder, less narrow face and a wider nose.

 

As the group has transformed from a radical but relatively peaceful clerical movement to an insurrection, Shekau had appeared in a number of videos issuing threats and taunting the authorities.

In one such clip, he claimed responsibility for the abduction of 200 schoolgirls from the remote village of Chibok in April, which sparked an international outcry and the '#BringBackOurGirls' social media campaign. The majority remain in captivity.

The surrender comes after one of the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted was freed this week, according to police and a parent of some of the other missing girls.

She is receiving medical attention after she was found running in a village, having spent four days in the bush, said a parent, who has two girls still with the insurgents and who declined to be named.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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