The Nigerian army could wipe out Boko Haram from its territory within December, President Muhammadu Buhari has said. The terror group, which recently pledged its support to Islamic State (Isis), began its insurgency in Nigeria six years ago and since then has carried out attacks in the country as well as in neighbouring countries.
Buhari on 23 December told BBC that Boko Haram had been driven out from Adamawa and Yobe states and only a small fraction of the terror group remains in Borno state. He also claimed that Boko Haram is no longer capable of carrying out conventional attacks on security forces or population centres.
"I think, technically, we have won the war," Buhari said. He also said the terror group has been forced to scale back on suicide bombings as a result of military action.
"Boko Haram has reverted to using improvised explosive devices (IEDs). They have now been reduced to that," Buhari said. "Boko Haram is an organised fighting force, I assure you, [but] we have dealt with them," Buhari added.
Critics of the government have argued that the scale of Buhari's success against the terror group is exaggerated. When Buhari announced that Boko Haram is close to being terminated, the terror group launched four attacks on villages in Niger, Chad and Cameroon in which seven people were killed, say his foes. Also, last week, 30 people were killed when Boko Haram terrorists attacked three villages in the north-eastern part of the country.
"They cannot now marshal forces and attack towns or attack military installations and so on as they did before. I don't think this is mad talking," Buhari insisted. He said the Nigerian army has been "reorganised and reequipped", with training from US, UK and French forces.
Boko Haram has reportedly killed 17,000 people and left more than two million homeless in the past six years. It seeks to set up a government similar to the one IS runs in areas under its control in Iraq and Syria.
According to a report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Boko Haram overtook Islamic State (Isis) as the world's deadliest terror group in 2014.