The Nigerian military has announced that it has killed three senior commanders of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, in an airstrike in the northeastern part of the country.
The military also said the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau was fatally wounded during the airstrike carried out in the Sambisa Forest, where the terrorists have been hiding.
According to the military, the terrorists were targeted in the airstrike last week, after intelligence was gathered regarding their main location in the forest near the town of Gambaru in Borno state.
On April 14, 2014 Boko Haram fighters stormed a school in the town, terrorizing residents before making away with more than 300 of the schoolgirls. The abduction of the girls gained prominence in the Western mainstream media. The first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama led a social media campaign known as #BringBackOurGirls. The campaign went viral with participants urging the terrorists to return the girls.
When this current Nigerian government was elected in 2015, its leader, Muhammadu Buhari pledged to do all he could to free the girls. President Buhari stated that his government is prepared to negotiate with the terrorists.
However, the negotiations failed and the government decided to use force to free the girls. The terrorists are believed to be hiding in the Sambisa Forest, a vast forest located in the northeastern part of the country. The girls too, are held in the forest. As the negotiation was not successful, the government authorized the country’s military to use airstrikes to flush out the militants from the forest.
Recently, Boko Haram released a video showing dead bodies of some of the girls. The terrorists claimed they were killed by the Nigerian military bombardments. They requested the government to free its jailed members before the girls will be set free. The government responded by saying it is looking for the right person within the group, in order to start negotiations for the freeing of the girls.
In this latest announcement by the Nigerian military, on the killing and wounding of top commanders of the terrorists, army spokesman, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman revealed that Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman have been confirmed dead from the airstrike the air force had carried out.
Colonel Usman also said that “their leader, so-called ‘Abubakar Shekau’, is believed to be fatally wounded on his shoulders.”
Local media in the northeast of the country are speculating that the military carried out the strike on Friday, August 19, 2016. It is said the strike hit the camp of Shekau where the terrorists had gathered for a ceremony.
However, some observers have expressed concerns regarding the safety of the girls being held by the group. It is believed the girls are being held in the Shekau camp, and the airstrike might have affected some of them.
The Nigerian military issued a statement on the incident; the girls were not mentioned. As it stands now, the fate of the girls is unknown.
Boko Haram has not responded to the claims by the Nigerian military, but local commentators say the group will respond soon.
The United State Foreign Minister, John Kerry will be visiting Nigeria to hold talks with the government on the fight against Boko Haram. Mr Kerry is currently touring Africa.
Boko Haram pledged support to the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) last year. Since then, two factions have emerged within the group. It is believed the two factions disagree on the operations of the group. One group believes it is right to kidnap and kill civilians when necessary, to advance the cause of the group, while the other holds that the group should rather fight the military and avoid civilians. Recently, ISIS released a statement that it has recognized the faction led by one Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
The group claims to be fighting the Nigerian government, to create an Islamic State. The group has targeted mosques and markets with suicide bombers. Since the group began its violent campaign in 2009, hundreds of Muslims in the northern part of the country have been killed.
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