The Nigerian military says it has killed 404 Boko Haram fighters but lost 15 soldiers in the war against the insurgents in the last four months.
The commander of the troops in the north-east, Attahiru Ibrahim, told journalists at a press briefing on Thursday that the terrorists carried out 97 suicide and vehicle borne attacks between March and June this year.
Mr. Ibrahim, a major general, who is the Theatre Commander of the force fighting the insurgents, disclosed this in an update of the military operations in the area.
He said the troops had also rescued 1,018 civilians held in various camps of Boko Haram.
Mr. Ibrahim said a total of 1018 Boko Haram suspects were arrested during the period reviewed.
He however clarified that only 67 Boko Haram suspects had so far voluntarily surrendered to troops. He stressed that the 700 Boko Haram fighters earlier said to have given up their struggle were actually those that indicated their intention to surrender.
The Theatre commander further mentioned that more villages and settlement are still being cleared within the Sambisa forest under the ongoing military special operation code named ‘Deep Punch’.
The military had in December said it has captured Sambisa forest following the fall of Camp Zairo in December 2016.
Responding to journalists’ questions, the major general argued that the forest is too large to be covered in a single operation.
“We need to appreciate the fact that Sambisa forest is about 60,000 square kilometres which spans the borders of Borno, Yobe up to fringes of Adamawa states”,
The commander dispelled concerns that Boko Haram attacks had escalated in the last six weeks.
According to him, “what happened was not an increase in attack, but it was a case of Boko Haram using technical asymmetric tactics to achieve their strategic low level aims by attacking isolated locations like the university (of Maiduguri) or the Jiddari Polo area.”
He further called on Boko Haram fighters in the jungle to lay down their arms as he assured them of their safety should they surrender.