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Army: Boko Haram to end in weeks

The Nigerian Army expects to seize Boko Haram’s last few strongholds in the North-east over the next few weeks, the commander in charge of the…

The Nigerian Army expects to seize Boko Haram’s last few strongholds in the North-east over the next few weeks, the commander in charge of the operation said yesterday.
Major General Lucky Irabor said the militants were now holed up in a few pockets of the Sambisa forest and two areas near Lake Chad and would be flushed out “within weeks”.
“Almost all of the locations held by the Boko Haram terrorists have been reclaimed. We are talking only of a few villages and towns,” Irabor said in an interview at his base in Maiduguri, Borno State.
Much of the success is due to better military cooperation with Nigeria’s neighbours, especially Chad, whose forces have been attacking Boko Haram fighters fleeing across the border.
“There are joint operations. My commanders have an exchange with local commanders across the borders. Because of the collaborations we’ve had Boko Haram has been boxed in and in a few weeks you will hear good news,” he said.
He said the jihadists, who pledged loyalty to Islamic State last year, were still controlling Abadan and Malafatori, two towns near Lake Chad, apart from their main base in the Sambisa forest, south of Maidguri.
The army was planning a new push into Sambisa after abandoning an attempt due to torrential rain, he said.
“Earlier on this year we had a major operation in the Sambisa,” he said. “Gains were made but unfortunately the weather conditions became such that we to pulled out waiting for more favorable conditions.”
He said the army had rescued some 20,000 people from Boko Haram, a fraction of the 2.2 million UNICEF said last week remained trapped in the region around Lake Chad.
He said Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau had recently been wounded, but backed off an Air Force statement this month suggesting he had been killed in an airstrike.
“Shekau was wounded. That’s what I can confirm, but as to whether he is dead that I cannot at the moment confirm.”
The army missed a December deadline set by President Muhammadu Buhari to wipe out the group, which wants to set up an Islamic caliphate in the area around Lake Chad, but has retaken most of its territory – at one point the size of Belgium. (Reuters)

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