Nigerian government troops, with assistance from civilian vigilante forces, was in control of the northeastern town of Chibok Sunday, just days after Boko Haram militants took over the region Thursday. Chibok is where the Islamist extremist group kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in April.
A Nigerian military spokesman confirmed the news to CNN Sunday, saying the town is again in government hands after members of Boko Haram launched a surprise offensive against soldiers and civilian security forces.
“Our troops have recaptured Chibok from Boko Haram terrorists [who] had invaded it on Thursday,” said Col. Sani Usman, a military spokesman for Borno state. “The town was retaken late Saturday by troops working alongside civilian vigilantes after crushing the terrorists. Troops are still conducting mop-up operations in nearby villages to flush out remnants of the terrorists.”
Residents who fled Chibok Thursday described a gruesome scene to international reporters, saying bodies were strewn in the street and it was impossible to call for help after Boko Haram, which attacked in two waves, cut telephone lines.
“You couldn't count them because there were so many,” Musa Ali, a vigilante who tried to defended Chibok, told the BBC. “All the security and the soldiers, they ran away and left us on our own. They didn't shoot at them, they just ran. All the ammunition we had was finished, so there was no way we could attempt to hold the area.”
Chibok's recapture is a rare piece of encouraging news for the Nigerian government, which has faced criticism at home and abroad since the girls taken. Last month government officials announced they had agreed to a ceasefire with Boko Haram that included a stipulation to return the missing schoolchildren. A number of attacks have occurred since that supposed deal, though, and the girls have yet to be recovered.