Nigerian army claims to have killed 50 Boko Haram fighters

 

Soldiers in Nigeria have found and killed 50 Boko Haram fighters, the army has claimed.

A military crackdown on the group - which demands the rule of Sharia law - ordered by President Goodluck Jonathan in mid-May had appeared to have weakened the sect. The group has troubled Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and biggest energy producer, since its appearance four years ago.

And today an army spokesman, Sagir Musa, told reporters in Borno state capital Maiduguri: "Troops pursued the terrorists to their camps and with air support about 50 terrorists were killed in a shoot-out.

"The villages have been rescued from the fangs of the insurgents. Troops are pursuing the remnants of the fleeing terrorists by blocking all possible exit routes."

More than 160 people were killed in violence linked to Boko Haram last month, including 24 vigilantes ambushed and killed near the remote town of Monguono. A new army division was sent to Borno last month.

Jonathan has been criticised for not quelling the insurgency.

The sect has several factions and an ill-defined leadership structure, which has hobbled efforts to strike a peace deal.

The military said last month Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau may have died in late July of wounds inflicted during a gun battle.

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