A spokesman for the Nigerian military says it has cleared the strategic road of Gwoza-Yamteke in Borno state of land mines planted by Boko Haram militants.
Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman said troops fighting the militants are determined to clear all roads in the country’s northeast of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
He said the operation led to the recovery of munitions such as drilling machines, rocket-propelled grenades and a howitzer artillery cannon.
“Our mandate apart from routing out the Boko Haram terrorists is to also clear all roads that have been laden with mines by the Boko Haram terrorists,” said Usman.
He said the militants converted chemistry laboratories at the Dikwa School of Agriculture into bomb-making factories when they seized the town.
Usman said the army uncovered the bombs, IEDs and other equipment when it liberated the town.
He said the Nigerian air force has been using air power to put pressure on the militants.
“Basically before any operation takes place, the air force plays a very significant role by bombarding the suspected Boko Haram terrorist locations, and then the troops move in. So, it’s a joint operation between the Nigerian army and the Nigerian air force,” he said.
Usman’s comments came after local media reported that representatives of Boko Haram are seeking negotiations with the government. Observers say military successes appear to have pressured the militants to consider negotiations.
But Usman said the military would not be deterred by the apparent switch in tactics by the Islamist militants.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they are making overtures to make peace with the Nigerian state,” said Usman. “[I urge] a note of caution, because these are people who have devastated a segment of Nigerian society for over six years, so we have to be very careful with them. We shouldn’t take anything for granted.”