Airstrikes, floods displace Nigeria jihadists
Northeast Nigeria is facing a 13-year armed insurgency by jihadist groups that killed over 40,000 people
Hundreds of Boko Haram jihadists fled a forest enclave in northeast Nigeria, escaping airstrikes by the military and floods from torrential rains to seek shelter on Niger's side of Lake Chad, sources said.
Northeast Nigeria is facing a 13-year armed insurgency by jihadist groups that killed more than 40,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes.
The violence has spilled into neighboring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, with the jihadists maintaining camps in the vast Lake Chad region straddling the four countries.
A Nigerian security source said there was an exodus of Boko Haram militants from Sambisa forest since last month due to a sustained bombing campaign on their hideouts. Nigeria also recorded a more intensive rainy season, which usually runs from May through September, and floods occurred in almost every part of the country.
"The exodus of the Boko Haram terrorists has increased in recent days as the bombardments have intensified, coupled with the flooding that submerged many of their camps," said a security source in the region who asked not to be identified.
Those heading into Niger are Boko Haram fighters who were holed up in parts of the Sambisa forest that remained under the group's control after it lost ground to a rival, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
ISWAP split from Boko Haram in 2016, rising to become a dominant jihadist group focusing more on attacking military bases and ambushing troops rather than civilians.
Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau was killed in May 2021 during the infighting with ISWAP, which also seized most of the group's territory in Sambisa.
Some Boko Haram fighters moved out of Sambisa towards forests in the northwest where they forged alliances with criminal gangs involved in looting and kidnapping for ransom, according to a Nigerian intelligence report.
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