Nigeria recaptures Gwoza town from Boko Haram
ABUJA: Nigerian military on Friday declared
that troops had retaken the town of Gwoza from Boko Haram, from which the group
declared their caliphate last year. “Troops this morning captured Gwoza
destroying the headquarters of the Terrorists self-styled Caliphate,” Defence
Headquarters in Abuja said on Twitter.
“Several terrorists died while many
are captured. Mopping up of entire Gwoza and her suburbs is ongoing,” it added
in a separate message.
Earlier this month, residents who
fled the town in Borno state told AFP that militants had been massing in Gwoza
and killing local people who were unable to flee.
That led to speculation that the
group, which has been pushed out of a number of towns in three northeast states
in recent weeks, was preparing for a final assault.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau
declared on August 24 last year that Gwoza was "part of the Islamic
caliphate", adding to speculation the militants were imitating the Islamic
Shekau had the previous month praised
IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi but stopped short of pledging allegiance. He has
since formally allied himself to the group in Syria and Iraq.
Nigeria's national security spokesman
Mike Omeri said last week that troops had begun the "final onslaught"
against Boko Haram, saying Gwoza was one of three areas yet to be retaken.
A four-nation coalition of Nigeria,
Niger, Chad and Cameroon has claimed a number of successes since the turn of
the year to end the insurgency which has claimed more than 13,000 lives since
The ongoing operation was cited as a
reason to delay Nigeria's general election on February 14 to this Saturday, as
soldiers would not be able to provide security nationwide.
In a televised address broadcast on
Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan hailed troops for having "successfully
stemmed the seizure of Nigerian territories".
"I heartily commend the very
courageous men and women of our Armed Forces for the immense sacrifices which
they continue to make in defending the nation and protecting its
citizens," he added.
But Chad's President Idriss Deby
accused Nigeria of failing to cooperate with the regional coalition battling
the jihadists, saying there had been zero contact between their armies.
"The whole world is asking why
the Nigerian army, which is a big army... is not in a position to stand up to
untrained kids armed with Kalashnikovs," Deby told French magazine Le
Point, in an interview published this week.