Nigerian army lands crushing blow on Boko Haram

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Sat Dec 24, 2016 2:8PM
This file photo taken on March 25, 2016 shows Nigerian army soldiers on the back of a vehicle in Damboa, Borno State, in northeast Nigeria. (Photo by AFP)
This file photo taken on March 25, 2016 shows Nigerian army soldiers on the back of a vehicle in Damboa, Borno State, in northeast Nigeria. (Photo by AFP)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says government troops have inflicted a heavy defeat on the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group by capturing the group’s last stronghold in the country’s northeast.

“I was told by the Chief of Army Staff that the camp fell at about 1:35 p.m. [local time] on Friday, December 23, and that the terrorists are on the run, and no longer have a place to hide,” Buhari said in a statement on Saturday, calling on the army to “maintain the tempo by pursuing them and bringing them to justice.”

Buhari added that the army troops managed to crush the remnants of Boko Haram at “Camp Zero”, located deep inside the thick Sambisa Forest in the volatile Borno State, without mentioning the whereabouts of the group’s ringleader Abubakar Shekau.

According to the Nigerian president, Friday’s victory marked the “final crushing” of the Takfiri group. The triumph was achieved after the army gradually tightened the noose around terrorists in the forest through a months-long counter-terrorism military campaign that was intensified in the last few weeks, covering some 13,00 square kilometers of the forest in an attempt to curb the group’s atrocities against civilians and clear the area of its presence.

Boko Haram terrorists started their reign of terror in 2009 with the aim of toppling the Nigerian government. In their heyday in early 2015, they managed to control an area in the country’s northeast as vast as Belgium, but they lost most of that territory over the last year as the Nigerian government, along with troops from some affected neighboring countries such as Chad and Cameroon, launched a joint military campaign to eradicate the militant group.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

During the past several months, Boko Haram, which was mainly pushed deep inside the lush forest, a former colonial game reserve, had resorted to carrying out sporadic raids against villages and bomb attacks against civilians in urban areas, killing hundreds of people.

The group, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” has pledged allegiance to Daesh, a Takfiri terrorist group wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.

On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok in Borno. About 80 of the girls managed to escape afterward or were swapped for a number of Boko Harm prisoners, but the fate of the rest remains unknown.

Boko Haram terrorists have so far killed more than 20,000 people and forced over 2.7 million others from their homes.

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