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Nigerian Forces Recapture Bama, Boko Haram Stronghold

Source: pointblanknews.com
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Nigerian government forces recaptured the northeastern city of Bama from

Islamist Boko Haram insurgents, the army said on Monday, a significant

victory for the government just two weeks before a national election.

Boko Haram had held Bama, situated in Borno state where their six-year-old

insurgency to establish a medieval-style Islamic caliphate has been

centred, since September last year. Their campaign expanded over the past

few months with cross-border incursions into Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

But counter-strikes launched by the armed forces of Chad and Niger over

the frontier into Nigerian territory, particularly around Lake Chad, as

well as the engagement of hundreds of mercenaries may have begun to turn

the tides of the conflict.
The arrival of new equipment has also helped boost morale among

hard-pressed Nigerian soldiers.
Africa's biggest economy and top energy producer has been plagued by the

insurgency launched in 2009. Boko Haram managed to take control of

territory the size of Belgium by the beginning of 2015.

The inability of the army to dislodge the militants, who have killed

thousands of people and kidnapped hundreds, has been an embarassement for

President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Nigerian troops have this afternoon routed terrorists from Bama in Borno

state. Mopping up operation is ongoing,” the Nigerian Defence Headquarters

tweeted.
Bama is about 60 km (40 miles) southeast of the state capital Maiduguri.

The army has been fighting for Bama since last week and began making

headway over the weekend, security sources said.
The militants were progressively pushed out of neighbouring Adamawa and

Yobe states since the start of the year, and cornered into an ever

shrinking area of Borno, the heartland of the insurgency, where they

appear to be suffering heavy losses.
But the Nigerian government has warned that the splintered militants would

regroup and increase attacks on “soft” targets, something that has already

occurred with a string of deadly bombings across the north and middle of

Nigeria.
The elections were postponed in February by six weeks, with the military

citing Boko Haram as warranting the delay.
Jonathan of the People's Democratic Party will face former military ruler

Muhammadu Buhari, seen as tough on security, in the March 28 election,

which is likely to be the closest ballot since the end of military rule in

1999.
Reuters
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