The Nigerian army on Dec. 14 said it rescued more than 600 women and children in a two-week crackdown on Boko Haram’s stronghold in northeast Nigeria. The rescue operation has not been verified.
Maj. Gen. Leo Irabor, commander of the operation, said in a news conference the troops rescued 69 men, 180 women, 227 boys, and, 129 girls between Dec. 7 and 14 from Sambisa forest. The forest, in Nigeria’s Borno state, is known widely as Boko Haram’s enclave and the location of many of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in April 2014. The army has not said whether any Chibok girls were among the rescued.
“The victims are in our custody for further investigation and interrogation,” Irabor said.
Boko Haram’s insurgency has plagued northeast Nigeria and other neighboring regions. The extremist group has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced another 2 million others. Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon set up the 8,700-member Multinational Joint Task Force last July to combat the group.
Martin Ewi, a terrorism analyst with the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, said the army’s rescue report lacked detail but could be possible.
In late November, the African Union Peace and Security Council renewed the mandate of the task force for 12 more months beyond its initial commission until Jan. 31. The council called on the force “to completely eliminate the Boko Haram menace.” Following the order, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Tukur Buratai said the army was deepening its advance into the forest.
“They are seeing this as the final stage in countering Boko Haram’s operation,” Ewi said. “That’s why we’re having these attacks that specifically target Boko Haram.”
But Boko Haram continues with its sporadic strikes. Two female suicide bombers killed at least 30 people last Friday in an attack on a market in Adamawa state. A similar bomb blast two days later in front of a market in Maiduguri, Borno’s capital, killed three people and injured 17 others.
Country officials need to fight the terrorism mentality to successfully counter Boko Haram, Ewi said. He called for the prosecution of Boko Haram extremists and suspects in addition to military efforts.
“Military force can help eliminate some of the most dangerous individuals, but they can always replace them,” he said.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: December 19, 2016