Over 3,000 people displaced in Nigeria’s northeast as a result of a seven-year terrorist campaign by the Boko Haram militant group have returned home after the reopening of key roads in the region.
“They were residents of Damasak, displaced by the insurgency staying as refugees in the neighboring Niger Republic and internally displaced people in Maiduguri,” said Nigerian army spokesman Sani Usman on Tuesday.
Damasak is a town in the country’s northeastern state of Borno, which was the worst hit by the Boko Haram militancy. The town was seized by the Takfiri militants in late 2014.
According to Usman, more than 3,000 residents of the area used one of the roads recently reopened by the army to return to Damasak on Monday.
This aerial file photo, taken on December 8, 2016, shows soldiers standing near a military vehicle in Bama, northeast Nigeria, where the Nigerian army has defeated Boko Haram in the Sambisa Forest. (By AFP)
He said the returnees went through military security checks on their arrival and were then greeted by local government authorities and community leaders.
The Boko Haram terrorists were flushed out of the town by Nigerian forces in July, and the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari announced on Saturday that the army had recaptured Boko Haram’s main camp in the Sambisa Forest.
The government further announced on Sunday that it was also reopening two roadways between Maiduguri, which is Borno’s capital, and the northern towns of Damasak and Baga.
More than two million Nigerians have been forced to flee their homes in the course of Boko Haram’s terror campaign as the militants attempted to establish their own rule in northeast of Nigeria. Nearly 15,000 people have so far been killed as the result of the militancy.
Following the recapture of the Sambisa camp, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai announced that the former game reserve would be converted to a military training base in a bid to prevent the militants from returning.
Despite suffering a major setback at the hands of the Nigerian military in the past few months, Boko Haram terrorists, affiliated to Daesh, continue to stage bombing attacks in northeast Nigeria as well as in neighboring Niger and Cameroon.
By Africafrique and agencies