The Nigerian military has announced the liberation of 195 Boko Haram captives after raiding what they described as a terrorist-operated market and pharmacy outlet in northeastern Borno state. Nigeria has struggled to prevent the jihadist group from staging more terror attacks since the nation declared victory in January.
Nigeria’s Premium Times reports that the military raided a camp described as a “patent medicine outlet and major market” run by the Islamic State-affiliated terror organization on Wednesday, killing “quite a number” of terrorists, according to military spokesman Sani Usman.
In a statement, Usman said:
The Nigerian troops of 7 Division Garrison comprising 112 Battalion and Armed Forces Special Forces yesterday carried out a joint clearance patrol on suspected Boko Haram terrorists locations at Kwaptara, Mijigete, Garin Boka, Mosole, Ngubdori, Ma’asa, Dukje and Gulumba in Dikwa and Bama Local Government Areas of Borno State.
The military liberated 195 hostages and recovered a significant amount of livestock, including “300 cows, 200 sheep and 130 goats rustled by the insurgents.”
Markets like these are vital to Boko Haram’s survival in the region, the military contends, because they allow jihadists to share whatever necessary goods they steal from the towns they raid, including food, medicine, and weapons. Boko Haram has headquartered itself in the dense Sambisa forest of Borno, which makes them a difficult target to spot for the Nigerian military but leaves them vulnerable to running out of food, fuel, and weapons. On Wednesday, the Nigerian Army also announced progress in infiltrating the forest, claiming that multiple camps within Sambisa had been cleared of its terrorist residents and destroyed.
The announcement of this attack follows a string of suicide bombings believed to be tied to Boko Haram in the region. Earlier this month, two female suicide bombers killed more than 65 people at a refugee camp in northeast Nigeria, whose population was comprised mostly of families fleeing Boko Haram. A week earlier, Boko Haram stormed Dalori, Borno state, killing more than 100 people there. They burned down most of the village, and Nigerian officials noted that hundreds were still missing from Dalori when the initial death toll was released, their fates unknown.
Boko Haram has also expanded outside of Nigeria and hit a market in Cameroon Friday with a suicide attack, killing 19.
Throughout these attacks, the Nigerian government has insisted that Boko Haram was defeated at the beginning of 2016. This week, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described the terror group as “hungry and desperate.” In January, President Muhammadu Buhari declared that “technically, we have won the war” against Boko Haram, claiming the military had accomplished its mission of eradicating the group by his December 2015 deadline. Jihadists have continued to attack markets, mosques, and remote villages in Borno, however, and the Nigerian Army has shifted its strategy to attacking markets known to sell or trade with Boko Haram jihadists.
Earlier this month, the Nigerian Army shut down major markets in both Borno and neighboring Yobe state, claiming they were engaging “in all manner of illegal commercial activities such as trading and smuggling … aimed at sustaining terrorism and insurgency.” Soldiers reopened the markets after they were satisfied that all those working with terrorists had been arrested.