The embattled leader of jihadist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, resurfaced in a video posted online Sunday, rejecting assertions by the Nigerian army that he had been seriously wounded.
“You have been spreading in the social media that you injured or killed me,” Shekau said in the 40-minute video released on YouTube and dated September 25.
“Oh tyrants, I’m in a happy state, in good health and in safety.”
The Nigerian army said on August 23 that Shekau had been seriously wounded in the shoulder in an air raid in which several commanders were killed.
Speaking in Hausa, Arabic and English and in dialects spoken in northeast Nigeria he appeared to be in good physical health.
He used the video to issue threats against President Muhammadu Buhari, who appealed to the United Nations this week for help in negotiating the release of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by the militants more than two years ago.
“If you want your girls, bring back our brethren,” Shekau says.
The army’s claim was bolstered when Boko Haram released a video on September 13 without Shekau in it.
That video, also posted on YouTube, shows an unidentified man who says he is representing Shekau, who had allegedly been ousted by the Islamic State group to which Boko Haram pledged allegiance in March 2015.
Nigerian soldiers, with the support of regional troops, have recaptured swathes of territory lost to the jihadists since they launched a military campaign in February 2014.
The mass kidnapping of schoolgirls from the remote town of Chibok provoked global outrage and brought unprecedented attention to Boko Haram and its bloody quest to create a fundamentalist state in northeastern Nigeria.