Abuja (AFP) – Boko Haram Islamists are still holding on to some territories in Nigeria’s troubled northeast, state governors from the region said on Thursday, after the military claimed a series of major victories against the Islamists.
Borno and Yobe governors told a monthly national economic council meeting in Abuja that the rebel group — whose insurgency has claimed more than 15,000 lives since 2009 — still controlled five municipalities within their states.
“On Boko Haram issues, governors of Yobe and Borno raised the alarm of five local government areas of the two states still being in possession of the insurgents,” an official document made available to reporters after the meeting said.
Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in the northeast have suffered the brunt of the Boko Haram insurgency.
A regional military coalition of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon has claimed a series of major victories against Boko Haram since launching sweeping offensives against the jihadists in February.
But the Islamist fighters, who recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State extremists who have captured swathes of Iraq and Syria, have been pushing back.
The Borno and Yobe governors called for an “increase in military deployment and provision of sophisticated military equipment in those areas”, the three-page document said.
”Insurgents are still hiding in the Sambisa forest,” it added.
It is widely believed that many of the more than 200 school girls kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Borno state, by Boko Haram jihadists in April last year are being held in the sprawling forest.
Gunmen killed eight people in a raid on a village in Borno state on Wednesday, in the latest violence blamed on the Islamists, a local resident and a vigilante said.
The attack was unleashed the same day as twin suicide bombings in Cameroon and a series of blasts at two bus stations in Nigeria that left at least 50 dead.