Recent reports indicate that the Nigerian military has retaken some of the territory gained by Boko Haram, a radical Islamic insurgency that declared parts of Nigeria for the caliphate late last month. While fighting continues to surrounding the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, government officials appear confident of their ability protect vulnerable civilians, especially Christians, who have reportedly been targeted by Boko Haram militants following the declaration of the caliphate.
09/08/2014 Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigeria’s military has recaptured the flashpoint town of Bama in northeast Borno state from Boko Haram and blocked the Islamist militants’ advance towards the state capital Maiduguri, a senior official said on Monday.
He said government forces are also fighting a southwards push into neighbouring Adamawa state by the group, which has recently departed from its usual hit-and-run tactics and started to seize towns and territory.
The government source, who asked not to be named, said Boko Haram fighters had been driven from Bama, 70 km (45 miles) southeast of Maiduguri. Government warplanes have bombed and strafed the militants after they stormed Bama last week.
“Bama has been recaptured by the soldiers and I can confirm to you Maiduguri is safe,” the official in Abuja told Reuters.
A market trader from Bama, Babagana Modu, also confirmed that soldiers were in control of the town, as government planes struck at Boko Haram positions in the surrounding area.
Thousands of civilians have fled the recent offensive by the Sunni jihadist movement, which has killed thousands in its five-year-old insurgency in the northeast of Africa’s No. 1 oil producer.
It is now believed to be trying to mimic the example of Islamic State (IS), which has announced the creation of its own caliphate covering parts of Syria and Iraq.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau last month declared a “Muslim territory” after capturing Gwoza on the Cameroon border.