The Nigerian Army announced Tuesday that it has killed 58 Boko Haram fighters and recovered several weapons during a raid on the Islamic militants’ hideout in the northeastern village of Musari. The news comes just days after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said that Boko Haram no longer held territory within the country.
Local media reports also said Tuesday that Nigerian troops have killed one of the commanders of Boko Haram who became famous “for his vicious killing methods especially the beheading of persons captured.” During the operation at Dalore camp Sunday, troops also freed 67 hostages, Sani Usman, the acting director of Public Relations at Army Headquarters, reportedly said.
Monday’s clearance operations at the Musari village also claimed the life of one Nigerian soldier, authorities reportedly said.
Over the past several weeks, the Nigerian government reinforced its military offensives, pushing Boko Haram off territory it has held for years in the northern region of the country. Authorities said earlier this month that the group had been defeated and that displaced persons from the region could return home.
However, both U.S. and Nigerian regional authorities contradicted the claim that Boko Haram no longer held territory within the country.
"All we know is that Boko Haram lacks the capacity to carry out their usual commando-like attacks, during which they march in and run down towns or villages, but that is not enough to say that they are not around," Ngari Modu, a transport official living in a camp because his hometown remains a no-go zone, told the Associated Press. "We are left confused each time we hear soldiers saying no territory is now under the control of Boko Haram.”
The militant group, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2015, has been active in Nigeria since 2009, and in 2015 upped its activities across Nigeria’s borders in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
The government of Cameroon recently sentenced 89 Boko Haram militants to death after convicting them of terror charges.