The Nigerian Army on Tuesday announced the death of three key commanders of the extremist Boko Haram sect.
The army said the terrorists were killed on Friday in a major air strike on their location in the dreaded Sambisa Forest.
The spokesperson for the Army, Sani Usman, said the leader of the terrorist group, Abubakar Shekau, was also inflicted with with “fatal injury” during the operation.
Mr. Sani, a colonel, said the bombardment was carried out on Friday while Mr. Shekau, who the Nigerian military had pronounced dead several times in the past years, was leading his group in performing the Friday prayers at a secret location called Tayye in the heart of the vast forest.
The military has repeatedly claimed credit for killing Mr. Shekau. But the sect denounced the claims each time saying its leader remained alive. At times, Mr. Shekau would appear in a video to prove he had not been killed.
The military however insisted that the original Abubakar Shekau had long been killed, and that the so-called Abubakar Shekau said to be alive was a made-up character.
Giving further details of Friday bombardment, Mr. Sani gave the names of those killed in the raid as Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman.
Our correspondent in Maiduguri said the air raid was not immediately reported because journalists have no access to the location.
Military insiders also said the air force had no idea how successful the bombardments were until late Monday when the Army became aware of those killed and injured in battle.
Colonel Usman’s statement reads in full:
“In what one could describe as the most unprecedented and spectacular air raid, we have just confirmed that as a result of the interdiction efforts of the Nigerian Air Force, some key leaders of the Boko Haram terrorists have been killed while others were fatally wounded.
“The air interdiction took place last week Friday 19th August 2016, while the terrorists were performing Friday rituals at Taye village,
“Those Boko Haram terrorists commanders confirmed dead include Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman, amongst others. While their leader, so called “Abubakar Shekau”, is believed to be fatally wounded on his shoulders. Several other terrorists were also wounded”.