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Boko Haram’s Abubakar Shekau reappears after health questions

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Boko Haram factional leader Abubakar Shekau has re – emerged in a new video after a long absence that fuelled speculation about his health and ability to lead the Islamist militants.
In a 36 – minute message , seen by AFP on Tuesday , Shekau wore a white robe and skull cap , 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 .

The jihadist leader used to appear frequently on camera but was last seen in a 14 – minute video message on February 6 , in which he claimed responsibility for attacks in northeast Nigeria .

He is widely believed to be aged in his late 40 s . The US justice department lists 1965 , 1969 and 1975 as possible years of his birth

He said the latest message was recorded on July 12 at the request of his supporters “ as a kind of Eid greetings … to show that their brethren are well , in view of all sorts of things infidels are saying ( about us ) which we have ignored ” .

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 .

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In May 2017 , Shekau looked frail and appeared to have difficulty reading from a prepared speech , which he held close to his face in an apparent indication of vision problems .

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 .

Boko Haram , whose insurgency has left at least 20 , 000 dead since 2009 , split in mid – 2016 over ideological differences about the targeting of civilians in the conflict .

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 the Shekau faction .

( AFP )

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