Nigeria’s military says it has retaken the town of Chibok from Boko Haram militants who stormed it last week. Earlier this year, the militants snatched more than 200 schoolgirls from the remote town who remain missing seven months later.
Just days after Boko Haram insurgents overran Nigeria’s military and local vigilantes to take the town of Chibok, army spokesman Brigadier-General Olajude Laleye said Nigeria’s armed forces have retaken the town.
“Chibok was recaptured by forces, Armed Force of Nigeria around 6:30 on Saturday, 6:30 evening, that is 1830 hours Saturday. And by Sunday morning, the town was completely clear of all the insurgents,” he said.
FILE - Screengrab from a Boko Haram video shows Boko Haram fighters parading on a tank in an unidentified town.
For months, Boko Haram fighters have been taking territory in Nigeria’s northeast, including in Borno State, where Chibok is located. They raided the town earlier this year, kidnapping about 220 schoolgirls in a mass abduction that brought international condemnation on the group.
Ayuba Chibok is an elder in Chibok, but wasn’t in the town when it was taken. People he’s spoken to described running in terror as Boko Haram arrived.
“Actually it was very, very tense. They came in, there were a lot of them who came to Chibok, some are using motorbikes, some are these Hilux vans with guns mounted on top of the Hilux. So they were shooting randomly everywhere. You know since Chibok was attacked in the past, once people hear the sound of one or two vehicles coming, people were always alert. Most people were able to escape,” he said.
Fleeing villagers spent days in the bush before they could reach neighboring towns. Some remain missing and unreachable, because most cellphone networks in the area are down. Meanwhile, Ayuba Chibok says militants were torching churches in the town.
He fears many people are dead.
“Nobody will be able to tell exact number of people that might have been killed or wounded," he said. "Them that were there, they were just busy trying to escape to save their lives. But I’m sure as it used to be, each place Boko Haram visited, they used to get someone killed.”
General Laleye had no estimates on the number of casualties in the town, but said it did not sustain much damage during the weekend shootout. Separately, a bomb planted in a market in the town of Azare in nearby Bauchi state killed 13 people on Sunday."