Nigeria says has pushed Boko Haram out of all but 3 areas

2015-03-18 12:18
File: AP

File: AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Abuja - The Nigerian army said on Tuesday it had repelled Boko Haram from all but three local government districts in the northeast, claiming victory for its offensive against the Islamist insurgents less than two weeks before a presidential election.

At the start of this year, Boko Haram controlled around 20 local government areas, a territory the size of Belgium, in its bloody six-year-old campaign to carve out an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria.

But a concerted push by Nigeria's military and neighbours Chad, Cameroon and Niger has regained considerable ground. At the weekend, Nigerian government forces recaptured the city of Bama, the second biggest in north-easterly Borno state.

"We have three local governments remaining, Abadam, Kala-Balge and Gwoza, and we are optimistic that with time we will liberate those," Lieutenant-General Tobiah Minimah, the army chief of staff, told reporters.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who is running for re-election, had been criticised for not doing enough to tackle the insurgency. His challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, has been campaigning on his reputation for being tough on security matters when he was military ruler of Nigeria in the 1980s.

Worsening atrocities

It is not clear how much impact the military advances will boost Jonathan's election chances in the tightly fought race.

The militants were progressively chased out of Adamawa and Yobe states since the start of the year, and cornered into an ever shrinking area of Borno, the heartland of their insurgency.

The elections were postponed in February until 28 March, with the military citing Boko Haram as warranting the delay. The electoral commission plans to set up polling booths in camps for the more than a million Nigerians displaced by the fighting, but there are fears that potentially millions of people may be unable to vote in areas affected by the violence.

Asked whether the vote could hold in the recaptured areas, Minimah said that would be up to the electoral commission. "The areas have been liberated, but structures of governance ... will need to be reinstated so citizens can go back to their areas and [vote]. How soon? I don't know."

Boko Haram's worsening atrocities against civilians hit international headlines in April last year, when the militants kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from the village of Chibok, triggering a search for them that has been fruitless thus far.

Minimah said there was no news on the whereabouts of the Chibok girls for now, but that the military was optimistic they would be able to get more information on it soon.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  west africa  |  nigeria elections 2015

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.