Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and his fighters have fled their base in the Sambisa Forest for Konduga, an area closer to Borno state capital Maiduguri, reports Nigeria’s Daily Trust.
The insurgents have taken with them an “unspecified number” of captives, believed to include the remaining Chibok schoolgirls. Following the January rescue of Salomi Pogu there are thought to be 112 girls still missing of the 276 abducted in 2014.
Nigerian forces raided Boko Haram’s camp in the forest shortly after the insurgents had fled. Military operations in the area had intensified over the last few weeks.
Operational lead, Major General Rogers Nicholas, said his soldiers are now “in the heart of the Boko Haram enclave that is ‘Camp Zairo’” and that troops had taken “complete control” of the Sambisa Forest, the vast, former game reserve in north-eastern Nigeria, which became a Boko Haram stronghold.
It could prove difficult for the army to dislodge Boko Haram from their new base, according to a local villager. He said the area, which is fed by “plenty of streams and rivers”, would give the insurgents “a military advantage”.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian military’s success in displacing Boko Haram has diverted the world’s attention away from the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The agency said there are more than 7.2 million people affected by food insecurity in the region.