Islamist sect Boko Haram spokesman has been killed by Nigerian troops following a gun battle in the northern city of Kano, a senior security source said on Monday. Two other men, including what is suspected to be a top commander of the group, were also arrested.
The Nigerian security source, who could not be named, said the man killed had been identified as Abu Qaqa, whose name frequently appears in pronouncements on behalf of the sect from its northeastern base.
However, Boko Haram has not confirmed that Abu Qaqa has been killed.
A spokesman for the military and police joint task force in Kano, Lieutenant Ikedichi, said checks were being made to determine the identities of the three men.
Nigerian authorities in March claimed to have captured Abu Qaqa, but the man turned out to be another of the sect's members. Verifying his death is complicated by the fact that the name is probably a pseudonym.
Also on Monday, one Nigerian soldier was killed and three others were injured after an explosive was thrown at a military vehicle in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, a security source said. This resulted in a shootout in which 13 suspected Boko Haram members were killed.
The sect, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language of Nigeria's north, has been carrying an increasingly bloody fight against the nation's government. According to a count by The Associated Press, more than 680 people have died in drive-by killings and bombings blamed on the group this year alone.
Boko Haram has called for a strict implementation of Shariah law across the entire country and has demanded that all its captive members to be released.
The killing of senior members of the sect comes as the group recently changed some of its tactics and attacked more than 30 mobile phone towers throughout northern Nigeria, disrupting communications in a nation reliant on cellular phones.