Abuja—Nigerian forces have killed at least 35 suspected members of the outlawed Boko Haram group following a crackdown on the Islamists in their hideout in the country’s northeastern city of Damaturu, the military has said. A military spokesman said that the operation took place Sunday overnight in Adamawa and Yobe states after a round-the-clock curfew had been imposed in Damaturu, Yobe’s capital, earlier on Saturday. “The Joint Task Force has succeeded in killing 35 Boko Haram terrorists in shootouts between Sunday evening through Monday,” said Lieutenant Lazarus Eli, a military spokesman. More than 60 other suspected Boko Haram members were arrested in the crackdown that saw soldiers go door-to-door in three of the town’s neighbourhoods, resulting in an exchange of fire with the Islamist militants.Two soldiers were reported injured in the operation that saw dozens of guns, explosives devices and hundreds of rounds of ammunition recovered, as well as scores of arrows and two swords in their hideouts. On Sunday a car suicide bomber blew himself up outside a catholic church in the city of Bauchi, killing a woman and child and wounding at least 22 other people in a blast blamed on Boko Haram. Boko Haram which is loosely modeled in Afghanistan’s Taliban has been blamed for series of attacks in towns across the predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria, mostly targeting churches and security installations.
Efforts by the government to draw the radical group into peace talks to end the long-standing insurgency have severally failed, as the group continues to infuse terror in its pursuit to instill Islamic laws throughout Nigeria which is divided along Muslim north and mostly Christian south. It was reported last month that the government was using “backroom channels” to reach across the group to resolve the crisis that has seen over 1,400 deaths in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgency since 2010.
Nigeria’s military said last week it had killed the group’s spokesman who goes by the alias Abul Qaqa outside northern city of Kano. The deadliest attack ever to be claimed by the group was in January 20 in Kano; where coordinated bomb and gun attacks left 185 people dead, the highest ever single attack claimed by the group. Three of Boko Haram’s leaders have been enlisted as global terrorists by the US, but Washington has resisted calls to slap a terrorism designation on the entire organisation on the grounds that Boko Haram’s primary focus is domestic.