Less than five days after the Nigerian armed forces began a massive attack on militants in the north, Nigeria's Department of Defense says 65 suspected Boko Haram militants have been arrested and ten have been killed.
The Nigerian military says Boko Haram militants are fleeing their camps. Some are in search of fuel while others are running from the armed forces that are attacking the camps.
This comes after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday declared a state of emergency in three northern states because of escalating Boko Haram violence. Since the insurgency began in 2009, Boko Haram, which says it shares resources and training with al-Qaida, has been blamed for thousands of deaths.
In a statement released Saturday, Defense Department spokesperson, Chris Olukolade said the armed forces continue to battle Boko Haram and they will “fish out” suspected members in hiding.
Some analysts fear the military offensive could further escalate the violence, saying Nigerian security forces alienate the public by killing suspects rather than arresting them, and detaining people without charges.
Babagana, is an accountant in Maiduguri, the original home of Boko Haram and the heart of the insurgency. He says residents have mixed feelings about the sudden influx of armed forces.
“If they can discharge their duties professionally to ensure that peace is restored in [the north-eastern state of] Borno and the nation at large, it’s a welcome development. But the problem is when they are attacked or one of them is killed or whatever they will just start harassing innocent people, maiming, killing, burning and in the process they will kill a lot of innocent ones; meanwhile the culprit will escape them. So that is the problem.”
Phone and internet service in the northeast have been intermittent since the offensive began and many places are locked down, with authorities Saturday imposing an indefinite 24-hour curfew in more than 10 local areas.
In Maiduguri the military has blocked off roads heading north and commercial trucks wait idly at the blockades.