By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Lagos, Nigeria: The Nigerian military on Sunday confirmed that 13 suspected Boko Haram militants surrendered to troops during an operation aimed at smoking out remnants of the terror group in the country’s Northeast region.
The terrorists surrendered as troops on Saturday “sustained aerial bombardment and aggressive intensive clearance operation” in the Bama area of the northern state of Borno, John Enenche, the military spokesman, said in a statement.
According to Enenche, 17 children and six women, identified as family members of the suspected militants, also surrendered to troops at the Kodila village in the same Bama area of Borno.
He added that the suspects are currently undergoing “thorough profiling and investigation in line with global best practices in handling such cases.”
Boko Haram has been trying to establish an Islamist state in northeastern Nigeria since 2009, extending its attacks to countries in the Lake Chad Basin.
Who Are Boko Haram?
The Islamic State in West Africa or the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWA or ISWAP), formerly known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād and commonly known as Boko Haram, is a jihadist terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria, also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon.
Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the group has been led by Abubakar Shekau since 2009. When Boko Haram first formed, their actions were nonviolent. Their main goal was to purify Islam in northern Nigeria.
Since March 2015, the group has been aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Since the current insurgency started in 2009, Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was at one time the world’s deadliest terror group according to the Global Terrorism Index.
After its founding in 2002, Boko Haram’s increasing radicalisation led to the suppression operation by the Nigerian military forces and the summary execution of its leader Mohammed Yusuf in July 2009. Its unexpected resurgence, following a mass prison break in September 2010 in Bauchi, was accompanied by increasingly sophisticated attacks, initially against soft targets, but progressing in 2011 to include suicide bombings of police buildings and the United Nations office in Abuja.
Of the 2.3 million people displaced by the conflict since May 2013, at least 250,000 have left Nigeria and fled into Cameroon, Chad or Niger. Boko Haram killed over 6,600 in 2014. The group have carried out mass abductions including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in April 2014. Corruption in the security services and human rights abuses committed by them have hampered efforts to counter the unrest.
In mid-2014, the militants gained control of swaths of territory in and around their home state of Borno, estimated at 50,000 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi) in January 2015, but did not capture the state capital, Maiduguri, where the group was originally based. On 7 March 2015, Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, rebranding as Islamic State in West Africa.
In September 2015, the Director of Information at the Defence Headquarters of Nigeria announced that all Boko Haram camps had been destroyed and in 2019, president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari claimed that Boko Haram was “technically defeated”. However, attacks by Boko Haram have escalated and it still poses a major threat of continuous killing of Nigerians.