Nigeria's military says it believes an air strike has fatally wounded Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and other commanders of the homegrown Islamic extremist movement.

A brief statement Tuesday does not say how the military got this information. Nigerian security forces have at least three times in the past declared that they have killed or fatally wounded Shekau.

Army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman says the "most unprecedented and spectacular air raid" took place while Shekau was performing prayers on Friday at Taye village in the Sambisa Forest in northeastern Nigeria.

He says Shekau "is believed to be fatally wounded" along with other leaders.

Shekau started the uprising in 2009 that has killed about 20,000 people and driven more than 2.2 million from their homes.