The Nigerian military said Friday it reclaimed the northern town of Gwoza from Boko Haram and destroyed the Islamic militant group’s headquarters there in Borno state. Gwoza had been one of the few strongholds Boko Haram had left in northern Nigeria, according to Bloomberg. The military campaign came a day before Nigerians were expected to head to the polls for the country’s presidential election.

The military said in a Twitter post that “several terrorists died while many [were] captured” in the Gwoza operation and that the “mopping up of entire Gwoza and her suburbs is ongoing.” In capturing Gwoza, troops also “destroyed the headquarters of the terrorists' self-styled caliphate,” the armed forces said:







Nigeria’s elections were delayed because President Goodluck Jonathan was concerned Boko Haram would disrupt the contest through violence. Critics claimed the postponement was more about Jonathan improving his standings in the polls against opponent Muhammadu Buhari, who is running on a platform of being tougher on Boko Haram and rooting out corruption in Nigeria.

On Friday, Jonathan praised the military for its “immense sacrifices” and for retaking “most of the communities and territories formerly occupied” by Boko Haram, according to Bloomberg.

The militant group kidnapped about 300 girls from Borno state in April 2014 and is estimated to have killed 1,000 people since the beginning of the year, according to Human Rights Watch. Boko Haram is also believed to have kidnapped 500 children and women earlier this month from the town of Damasak, Newsweek reported. 

“The significance of this kidnap illustrates quite clearly that it is possible to roll Boko Haram’s occupation of territory back, but without defeating it,” John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Newsweek.  “The nature of Boko Haram is that it can be driven out of a territory but it simply melts back into the countryside or into the slums and continues on.”