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Nigerian official claims new leader of IS-linked group killed

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) – Nigerian security forces have killed the new leader of an extremist group linked to Islamic State, accused of killing hundreds of people in Nigeria and neighboring African countries in the ‘West, a senior security official said on Friday.

Nigerian National Security Advisor Babagana Monguno said Malam Bako, who recently succeeded Abu Musab al-Barnawi as head of Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), has been “wiped out” by troops earlier this week.

Bako’s death could not be independently verified and there was no immediate confirmation from ISWAP. This would be another blow to ISWAP after the Nigerian military announced the death of al-Barnawi last week.

Bako was appointed in August as a member of the Shura Council, ISWAP’s consultative assembly, as activists consolidated their position in the Lake Chad basin after the death of rival leader Abubakar Shekau of the extremist group Boko Haram.

Monguno praised the Nigerian security forces fighting extremist rebels in the northeast and Lake Chad basin for doing “an excellent job” after eliminating the ISWAP leader and his successor in space. a month.

He said the ISW-linked group is facing a leadership crisis and that Nigerian military operations have put “a lot of pressure” on ISWAP and its rival Boko Haram.

The reported killings of al-Barnawi and Bako have refocused attention on the conflict in northeast Nigeria, which began 12 years ago with an insurgency launched by Boko Haram.

The Nigerian military recently announced that around 6,000 militants have so far surrendered after Shekau’s death in June this year. Security experts told the PA that most of those who surrendered were forced to join Boko Haram under Shekau or did not want to partner with ISWAP, which has been Boko Haram’s rival since the split. groups in 2016.

Unlike Boko Haram, which often violently targets civilian populations, ISWAP targets Nigerian soldiers and those who help soldiers.

IS also tried to capitalize on Shekau’s death by launching a massive recruitment drive and gaining more territory held by Boko Haram, especially in Sambisa Forest.

The United Nations Development Program estimates that the conflict has claimed 350,000 lives, including 314,000 of indirect causes.

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