The Nigerian military says it is investigating reports that one of the wives of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram Takfiri group, has been killed in a recent airstrike.
“Efforts are ongoing to confirm the reported killing of Shekau’s wife, alongside other BHTs (Boko Haram terrorists),” said air force spokesman Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya on Tuesday, six days after an attack on Boko Haram militants near Urga in the Konduga area in Borno state.
Adesanya said the air raid on October 19 targeted “a large gathering of Boko Haram terrorists” at the Durwawa settlement. He added that the attack killed scores of militants on the ground and triggered a fire.
The official said that Shekau’s wife, identified as Fitdasi, was “reported to have been representing her husband in a coordinating meeting with other terrorists at the location of the airstrikes”.
Fitdasi was thought to be one of Shekau’s four wives. Nigerian army arrested another wife, Hassana Yakubu, in a raid in the northeastern city of Damaturu in 2012. She was released a year later along with the wives of several other top commanders of Boko Haram.
One of other wives of Shekau is a widow of Muhammad Yusuf, the founder and former leader of Boko Haram who died in custody in 2009.
Under Shekau’s leadership which began after Yusuf’s death, Boko Haram has led an insurgency in northern Nigeria and neighboring countries that has left around 20,000 people dead. Hundreds of thousands have also been displaced in the violence.
The Nigerian military claims its massive operations which began two years ago has made Boko Haram a spent force as the group has withdrawn from its major strongholds in Borno. However, the government still struggles to contain sporadic attacks that mostly target civilians in crowded places.