Nigeria’s military says it has bombed northeastern training camps and equipment belonging to Boko Haram, killing a large number of insurgents.
The airstrikes hit targets in Sambisa forest, where the Islamist group initially took the more than 200 schoolgirls it kidnapped last year before dispersing them into groups.
Boko Haram’s relentless attacks on military and civilians have killed thousands since it launched its violent campaign for a breakaway Islamic state in 2009, threatening the stability of Nigeria and the entire region.
The extremists were cited as a reason why Nigeria postponed this month’s presidential and parliamentary elections to March 28. But in a video the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened to disrupt the upcoming vote.
Yet the tide could be turning in the battle against Boko Haram, with neighbours Chad, Cameroon and Niger, all of whom are plagued by the militants, also weighing in.
Chad launched a US-backed counter-terrorism exercise on Monday, involving 1,300 soldiers from 28 African and Western countries, billing it as a warm-up for a major offensive.
The annual exercises, which began in 2005, aim to improve cross-border military cooperation in the Sahel, a region prey to al Qaeda-linked and home-grown Islamists, separatist insurgents and criminal gangs.