Boko Haram 'crushed' by Nigerian army in final forest stronghold

Islamist militants driven from area the size of Belgium into 'Camp Zero' in the depths of Sambisa Forest

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The Independent Online

Boko Haram militants have been driven from their final stronghold in the forests of northern Nigeria, as the Isis-linked Islamist group were "crushed" by the country's army.

The insurgency once controlled an area of north-eastern Nigeria the size of Belgium, but had been driven into their “Camp Zero” stronghold in the depths of the vast Sambisa forest.

Nigerian soldiers have made significant gains in the former colonial game reserve across recent weeks, and Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement they had been forced out entirely on Friday. 

"I am delighted at and most proud of the gallant troops of the Nigerian Army," he said.

"I want to use this opportunity to commend the determination, courage and resilience of the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole at finally entering and crushing the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents at Camp Zero."

Though severely weakened, the Islamist group continues to launch suicide attacks across the state of Borno and in neighbouring Niger and Chad. They have killed 15,000 people and driven more than two million from their homes across seven years of armed struggle. 

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Since 2015, they have styled themselves as the "Islamic State West Africa Province", while their unofficial name of Boko Haram is translated as "Western education is sacrilegious". 

Their stated aim is to rid Africa's largest country of Western influence and establish a state run on principles of Sharia law, and they also oppose the concentration of wealth in the hands of Nigeria's political elite.

But the Nigerian military has previously made similar announcements, claiming in 2015 that all their camps had been wiped out. Military commanders warned that members of the group were likely to have fled into the surrounding forest.

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