World Bulletin / News Desk
Scores of "injured" Boko Haram rebels have been arrested near Lake Chad as a multinational military taskforce pounded militant hideouts in northeastern Nigeria.
"Scores of wounded terrorists who escaped from various camps under the fire of security forces have been captured in the fringes of Lake Chad," military spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement.
The multinational taskforce comprises troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad with the aim of battling the deadly Boko Haram insurgency.
Olukolade said that the captured rebels were making "useful confessions" that would help combat the group.
"The captured terrorists some of whom are fatally wounded are already making useful statements to interrogators of the Multi-National Joint Task Force," Olukolade said. "Others were captured by troops in locations around Dikwa, Cross Kauwa, Kukawa and Alargarmo."
"In their confessions, it was revealed that some of the camps have been disbanded following the directive of their clerics who declared that the operation of the sect had come to an end as the mission could no longer be sustained," he said.
The spokesman claimed that the captured insurgents cited starvation and lack of medical care for their fall.
"They confirmed that starvation was a major problem in addition to ceaseless bombardments on the camp locations even when they kept relocating," he said.
"They also confirm that several members of the group have been wounded and no treatment was forthcoming."
The spokesman said that "Troops have continued their assault on other locations across the states covered by the state of emergency."
The military, meanwhile, has asked members of the public to stop visiting areas from which insurgents were recently dislodged to avoid attacks.
"Members of the public, who have started visiting to engage in sightseeing in some dislodged camps and fringes of forests such as Sambisa and others have been warned to desist from doing so as the tendency will no more be condoned where operations are still ongoing," Olukolade said.
Tuesday's statement implies some level of sweeping victory by the military, a claim most Nigerians would likely view with distrust.
Recent claims of victory over the sect were followed by ruthless attacks on the hinterlands, where hundreds of civilians have been killed in the past months alone.
Boko Haram, a hitherto peaceful organization that had preached against corruption, suddenly turned violent in 2009 following the murder of group leader Mohamed Yusuf while in police custody.
In the years since, the group has been blamed for thousands of terrorist acts, including attacks on churches and security posts across Nigeria's northern region, especially in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Although it claims to want an Islamist government in the region, Nigerian Muslims – most of whom reject Boko Haram as un-Islamic – have also been targeted by the group.
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