The Nigerian military claims “scores” of Boko Haram jihadists are surrendering to authorities, following targeted attacks on their food and fuel supplies in the dense Sambisa Forest of northern Nigeria.
“The new strategies employed included sustained offensive operations, pre-emptive air strikes by the Nigerian Airforce and routes blocking by ground troops all geared towards constricting and snuffing out the Boko Haram terrorists,” military spokesman Sani Usman explained, noting that “scores” of the ISIS-affiliated terrorists had chosen surrender to authorities over remaining in the Sambisa forest with no food supplies, no fuel for their vehicles, and little ammunition.
Nigeria’s Premium Times, which ran the full military statement, credits the appointment of new Army Chief Tukur Buratai for this success; Buratai replaced his Goodluck Jonathan-appointed predecessor earlier this year following a removal of all military leaders by President Muhammadu Buhari. Buratai is himself from Borno, and reportedly knows the northern territories inhabited by Boko Haram well.
The Nigerian military recently banned horseback riding in Borno, vowing to treat anyone on horseback as a Boko Haram terrorist. This policy followed reports that the group had run out of fuel for their vehicles and had only horses for transportation and village raids.
Usman noted in his statement that, in addition to the surrender as good news in itself, those who turned themselves in to authorities “painted images of mass panic and hysteria among their erstwhile colleagues who are feeling the noose tightening on their necks.”
More evidence of the Nigerian military advancing has surfaced in the form of abandoned Boko Haram camps in the north. The areas of Banki, Kumshe, and Bama in Borno boast at least four abandoned Boko Haram camps, according to the Premium Times. The military noted that “a dozen kidnapped women and children” were left at the camps also, as Boko Haram terrorists lose the ability to feed and shelter their captives.
Last week, a separate report indicated that another dozen Boko Haram captives managed to find their way to authorities in Borno, telling soldiers that they had been “abandoned” by the men who had forcibly taken them as wives. Two of the women in that group were noticeably pregnant.
The Nigerian military has insisted for weeks that their assault on Boko Haram is yielding results, even as news updates regarding the group grow ever more alarming. In early September, a number of suspected Boko Haram terrorists were arrested in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city located on the opposite end of the country from Borno. The Nigerian military spun even this as good news: the terrorists had been forced to overplay their hand and try to hide in plain sight–and failed.
The surrenders also follow news of a faction of the terror group allegedly feuding with the higher-ranking leadership in the party. While Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau resurfaced in new media in August, asserting that he was alive and in charge, Chadian President Idriss Deby had claimed that a man named Mahamat Daoud had become the leader of a rival Boko Haram faction seeking peace talks with Nigeria. Who Daoud is and whether he is still alive remain unknown.