Nigeria’s military says it has killed more than 250 Islamist militants with the Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) groups in attacks over the past two weeks. A military spokesman said Nigerian troops also rescued three abducted Chibok schoolgirls, who the militants had held captive since 2014.
Nigeria’s defense ministry authorities made the announcement Thursday during a security update in the capital of Abuja.
Defense spokesperson Musa Danmadami said military forces carried out highly successful air bombardments and ground clearance operations in Operation Hadarin Kai between August 25 and September 8.
He said in the early stages of the operation, troops attacked insurgents in isolated villages in northeast Borno and Yobe states and killed 52 terrorists. He said troops arrested 14 other fighters and rescued 22 hostages, including three “Chibok girls” who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014.
Danmadami said troops even scored more success during operations in the Bama district of Borno state on September 3, when air and land attacks wiped out Boko Haram and Islamic State hideouts.
“Feedback from various sources reveal that over 200 terrorists were neutralized including five high profile commanders. Their enclaves were bombarded, the airstrikes resulted in the neutralization of a large number of insurgents, while the land components mopped up the fleeing terrorists.”
Danmadami said a total of 556 people surrendered to the military, including 15 adult males, 189 females and 252 children.
The defense spokesperson said troops also recovered grenades, AK-47 rifles, grenade launchers and many rounds of ammunition.
Nigeria has been battling an Islamist insurgency in the northeast which started in 2009. Years of fighting has killed tens of thousands of people.
Nigerian authorities have been intensifying assault against the Islamist groups in the country’s northeast.
But authorities are also contending with kidnap-for-ransom gangs active mainly in the country’s northwest and central states.
Beacon security analyst Kabiru Adamu says security forces are making an impact.
“The last few months we’ve seen an increase in both the clearance and interdictions operations by the Nigerian security operatives, creating huge blows in the capacity and efficiency of the non-state actors to carry out attacks. There has been progress in that regard.”
Another security expert, Patrick Agbambu, says authorities must sustain the pressure.
“It’s cheering news, we give kudos to the security agencies, but I’ll want to urge them to continue because while you’re recording success, the criminals are trying to devise other means.”
Nigerian authorities have been widely criticized for failing to maintain security. But on Thursday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged citizens to believe in the capacity of the security forces to restore lasting peace and stability.