MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: Nigerian troops killed 74 members of Boko Haram in an air and ground assault, the military said yesterday, a further sign of stepped up operations against the Islamist sect.
The offensive on Thursday targeted Boko Haram camps in the remote villages of Galangi and Lawanti in northeast Borno state where the militants have their strongest presence.
“The operation, which involved ground and aerial assault supported by the Nigerian Air Force led to the destruction of the identified terrorist camps, killing 74 terrorists while others fled with serious injuries,” Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Dole said in a statement.
Dole said two soldiers were wounded. The Nigerian military has in the past played down its own losses and those of civilians, security experts say.
The army said it had killed 37 Islamists in a similar strike last week in another remote area of Borno. Nigerian forces have intensified attacks against Boko Haram since May, when President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three states in the northeast.
Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria. While the offensive against it appears to have scattered the movement, it has also seen reprisal attacks against civilians suspected of cooperating with the authorities.