The extremist group appears to be at its end after seven years of fighting the Nigerian government.
The Nigerian Army has captured one of the final camps of extremist organization Boko Haram in the far northeast of the country, said President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday. In a statement, Buhari said that the capture of the stronghold dubbed, “Camp Zero,” signaled the “final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in the Sambisa forest.”
“I was told by the chief of army staff that the camp fell at about 1:35 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23 and that the terrorists are on the run, and no longer have a place to hide. I urge you to maintain the tempo by pursuing them and bringing them to justice,” Buhari continued.
The president said that the news was “long-awaited and most gratifying” and thanked the armed forces for “entering and crushing the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents.”
The Sambisa forest, a former game reserve, is where Boko Haram is believed to be holding more than 200 abducted schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in April 2014, which brought the group to the world’s attention and a ramping up of operations by Nigerian forces.
According to nongovernmental organizations and officials, at least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by the group since early 2015.
Since 2009, the group has been waging a campaign against the Nigerian government to impose a hardline system of Islamic law in the northeast of the country, where the fighting has displaced about 2.6 million people and killed at least 20,000 people, and included abductions, civilian slaughters and suicide attacks.
Nigeria’s Army along with forces from neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger have recently pushed back Boko Haram forces, after they were estimated to have held a territory the size of Belgium in 2015.
While the group appears to be close to total defeat it still poses a threat from characteristic suicide attacks in crowded public spaces. Citizens in Nigeria and bordering countries have been warned to remain cautious as members from the group flee into different areas.