Nigeria: Abubakar Shekau Reappears in New Video After Long Absence

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Boko Haram factional leader Abubakar Shekau has re-emerged in a new video after a long absence. In a 36-minute message, seen by AFP on Tuesday, Shekau wore a white robe and skullcap, and held an assault rifle as he sat in front of a military camouflage canvas.

He appeared unwell but made no direct mention of his health or reports from last month that he had high blood pressure, failing eyesight and diabetes-related complications.

He said the latest message was recorded on July 12 at the request of his supporters. The end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan was celebrated in Nigeria on June 15. It was not possible to obtain independent verification of the claimed date, and there was no explanation about the apparent delay in recording or publishing the message. Two well-placed sources told AFP last month that Shekau’s health was failing and he was “too weak to be in charge” of the jihadists.

His lieutenants were said to be in talks about the situation. One faction, headed by Abu-Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, whose father Mohammed Yusuf founded Boko Haram, won the support of the Islamic State group.

The Barnawi faction has been blamed for a spate of attacks in recent days against the military northeast Nigeria. Eight people were killed in a suicide bombing at a mosque in Borno state on Monday, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of theShekau faction.

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