By Alexis Akwagyiram and Julia Payne
ABUJA (Reuters) – If Chadian President Idriss Deby is to be believed, Abubakar Shekau, the bearded and bandoliered leader of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, is no more.
Given the many previous reports of Shekau’s demise, followed soon after by videos of him brandishing automatic weapons and spouting invective against the Nigerian state, analysts and diplomats are treating the claims with caution.
However, two factors are spicing up the normal guessing game that swirls around the leadership of the notoriously opaque group, which has killed thousands of people in its six-year campaign to establish an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria.
First, Shekau – not known for being camera-shy – has not appeared on video for six months, raising the possibility that he has indeed been injured or killed by offensives during that time by Nigerian, Chadian and Cameroonian troops.
And second, Deby has identified…
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