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Nigeria: Boko Haram Leader Rejects Air Strike Injury Claims - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has rejected claims he had been wounded in an airstrike in remote northeast Nigeria.

In a 14-minute video, the shadowy Boko Haram chief insisted he was not injured and that none of his key lieutenants was harmed either.

“I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive,” he said, wearing his trademark camouflage jacket and cradling an assault rifle.

“I’m alive, you have not killed any of my men. I didn’t even know this incident you are talking about ever happened.”

The jihadist chief was said to have been wounded and one of his deputies killed when two air force jets bombarded fighters at Balla village, on the edge of the Sambisa Forest in Borno state, last Friday.

Surveillance footage showed missiles being fired on what the air force said were Boko Haram gunmen, while the army announced it had “neutralized quite a number of terrorists”, including in Balla.

“There were indications that quite a number of the terrorists’ key leaders have either been killed or wounded,” army spokesman Brigadier-General Sani Usman said earlier Thursday, without naming Shekau.

But the Boko Haram leader said: “What surprises me is your claim that I’m nursing wounds. Look at me well. Look at my sitting posture.”

There was no indication where the video was shot.

In it, Shekau was flanked by two masked, armed men, sitting against what appeared to be a desert camouflage net and Boko Haram’s black and white insignia.

A source with links to the militants told AFP on Wednesday that Shekau narrowly escaped death when the second missile hit as he was on his way to preach at Friday prayers.

“It’s bloody propaganda,” he said of Shekau’s video denial.

The Boko Haram insurgency has left at least 20,000 people dead and made more than 2.6 million others homeless since 2009, devastating the region and leaving millions dependent on humanitarian aid.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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