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ISWAP is not eligible for $7m bounty placed on Shekau – US

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[ FILE PHOTO] This screen grab image taken on January 2, 2018 from a video released on January 2, 2018 by Islamist group Boko Haram shows Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau<br />AFP PHOTO

The United States Department Rewards for Justice Program has said that the $7 million bounty placed on the leader of the Boko Haram sect, Abubakar Shekau, will not be given to members of the Islamic State in West Africa Province.

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“News reports today indicate that Boko Haram terrorist Abubakar Shekau blew himself up in a confrontation with ISIS affiliates,” US said on Twitter on Thursday.

“Hey, ISIS guys. To clarify: no – you are not eligible for the reward for information on his identity or location.”

The US had on April 14 placed a $7million reward for anyone who has information on Shekau and his whereabouts.

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About a month after, Shekau, a jihadist leader who made international headlines when his men kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in 2014 was reportedly dead while other news platform indicated he was badly injured.

It was not the first time Shekau has been reported killed or seriously wounded.

Shekau and some of his men were surrounded on Wednesday by ISWAP jihadists in Boko Haram’s Sambisa forest stronghold, where they demanded he surrenders, one intelligence source said.

“To avoid capture, Shekau shot himself in the chest and the bullet pierced his shoulder,” the source said. “He was badly injured.”

Some fighters managed to escape with him to an unknown destination, the source added.

A second intelligence source said Shekau was critically wounded after detonating explosives in the house where he was holed up with his men.

“We are investigating,” Nigeria’s army spokesman Mohammed Yerima told AFP by text, asked about those reports.

Shekau took over Boko Haram, formally known as the Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, after its founder Mohammed Yusuf was killed in police custody in 2009.

Under Shekau’s leadership, Boko Haram turned large swathes of the northeast into a no-go territory, proclaiming a “caliphate” in the Borno town of Gwoza in 2014.

Angered by Shekau’s indiscriminate targeting of Muslim civilians and use of women and children suicide bombers, a rival faction broke away in 2016 to become ISWAP with the backing of the Islamic State group.

AFP contributed to this report.

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