Dozens of Boko Haram militants surrender in Niger
Iran Press TV
Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:3AM
Dozens of militants with the Takfiri Boko Haram terrorist group have surrendered to Nigerien authorities, less than a week after Nigeria announced that its troops captured the group's last key bastion in the country's northeast.
"Thirty one young people from Diffa, who were enrolled a few years ago in Boko Haram, decided to surrender," Nigerien Interior Minister Bazoum Mohamed said.
The troubled Diffa region, located in the southeasternmost part of Niger, borders Nigeria's volatile Borno State, where Boko Haram hides in the dense Sambisa Forest.
One of the deserters appeared on a Nigerien public television program and recounted why they had decided to give themselves up to local authorities.
"We have deserted Boko Haram because we found that what the organization stands for is not acceptable. We expect a pardon from the government so that we can participate in the development of the country and help us get rid of the trauma," he said.
The Nigerien government has reportedly assured that it will grant an amnesty for all the deserters providing that they undergo a de-radicalization program, after which they will be enrolled in socio-economic reintegration projects.
Back in June, tens of thousands of people were forced to abandon their homes in Diffa as Boko Haram terrorists launched a sweeping offensive across the region, and in September, at least five Nigerien troopers were killed by the terror group near the village of Toumour, about 65 kilometers northeast of Diffa.
Niger has been one of the countries affected by the more than seven years of Boko Haram militancy in Nigeria. The Takfiri terrorist group has routinely launched attacks across Nigerian borders into Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
'Boko Haram likely used Chibok girls as shield'
Also on Wednesday, Major General Lucky Irabor, a Nigerian military commander, speculated that the terrorists, fleeing a major attack on their last stronghold in the Sambisa Forest on Friday, might have used abducted girls as human shields to prevent being hit by warplanes.
Irabor, who was addressing a press conference, showed aerial footage he said was filmed during the operation in the forest, indicating that the terrorists were moving with women and children.
"The haggard militants were just using them as a shield. That is why we did not engage them from the air," Irabor said in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. "We had always believed and hoped that going into the Sambisa would afford us the opportunity to get the remaining Chibok girls. What we can't tell is whether those women we can see were the Chibok girls."
On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok in Borno. About 80 of the girls managed to escape afterward or were swapped for a number of Boko Harm prisoners, but the fate of the rest remains unknown.
Boko Haram terrorists started their reign of terror in 2009 with the aim of toppling the Nigerian government. In their heyday in early 2015, they managed to control an area in the country's northeast as vast as Belgium but lost most of that territory over the past year as the Nigerian government, along with troops from some affected neighboring countries such as Chad and Cameroon, launched a joint military campaign to eradicate the militant group.
Boko Haram terrorists have so far killed more than 20,000 people and forced over 2.7 million others from their homes.
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