The Nigerian military said it has “wiped out” all known Boko Haram terror camps and cells in northeast Nigeria. Nigerian Defense spokesman Col. Rabe Abubakar said the Islamist insurgents were “so militarily defeated and weakened” that they could never hold territory in that part of the country again, according to Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper.
“As I am speaking to you, all the terrorists’ camps have completely been wiped out. So, right now they are completely in disarray, having no command and control of where to plan. We have even taken over the camps that most of them have even abandoned their bases and blended within towns and communities,” Abubakar said during a press conference Wednesday at the Defense Headquarters in the capital city of Abuja. “We are making a lot of headways and a lot of achievements and people should know that Boko Haram is no longer strong enough to hold ground. Very soon this issue of whether they are in control of any territory in Nigeria or not will come to the open.”
— DEFENCE HQ NIGERIA (@DefenceInfoNG) September 9, 2015
Nigerian troops arrested a number of Boko Haram leaders and members Tuesday after intercepting a vehicle in northern Yobe state allegedly carrying fuel and illicit drugs for the Islamist militant group. The Nigerian army claimed the discovery served as proof Boko Haram’s quest to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria was a sham because drugs are prohibited in Islam, except for medicinal purposes, AFP news agency reported.
Abubakar on Wednesday credited the recent military achievements in part to the boost in morale of troops by new chief of army staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Burutai, who was appointed in July. Since taking office in May, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has replaced his army, navy, air force and defense chiefs in an effort to revive the government’s campaign against Boko Haram.
“These terrorists have been subdued. Even if they are adopting other means and as they are re-strategizing, we are also doing same,” said Abubakar, who took over as Nigeria’s defense spokesman for Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade in August, according to Premium Times. “The issue of desertion, complaints of non-equipment and lack of morale and motivation are now things of the past.”
Boko Haram's six-year insurgency has left a devastating impact on the West African country. More than 2.1 million people are displaced in northern Nigeria, the International Organization for Migration in Geneva said in September. The militants have also killed at least 15,000 people, mostly in northern Nigeria.
The Nigerian military has made claims about defeating Boko Haram in the past. Ahead of the March presidential elections, then-Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said the military had destroyed Boko Haram's headquarters in Gwoza town in Borno state and could retake all territory seized by the insurgents within a month. The army has claimed a number of military victories against the terrorists, but Boko Haram has fought back with increased attacks since Buhari took office on May 29.