Nigerian soldiers found bunkers, tunnels and mass graves used by Boko Haram Islamist militants during a search in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, a military spokesman said.
The hideouts contained various types of weapons, bodies of some people killed by the militants and graves of their members killed in clashes with security forces which they took away, Sagir Musa, a spokesman for the military in the region, said in a statement handed to reporters yesterday in Maiduguri, Borno state capital.
“Troops also discovered a vast network of mouse-holes linking compounds and underground tunnels as well as bunkers under houses,” he said.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language, has killed thousands of people in gun and bomb attacks since 2009 in the mainly Muslim north and the capital, Abuja, in its campaign to establish an Islamic state in Africa’s largest oil producer. Nigeria’s more than 160 million people are roughly split between Christians, predominant in the south, and Muslims, mostly in the north.
Nigerian troops began an air and ground offensive against the militants on May 16, two days after President Goodluck Jonathan imposed emergency rule in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to step up the fight against the Islamists. The insurgents were taking over parts of Borno state, according to Jonathan.
Nigeria’s Special Duties Minister Kabiru Turaki said on July 10 the government had agreed to a cease-fire with Boko Haram that started July 8 after talks with the Islamist group’s deputy leader, Mohammed Marwan. The claim was denied days later by the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, who said the militants won’t enter into any truce “with infidels.”
Shekau also backed an attack on a secondary school in the region last week that left 20 students and a teacher dead. While not taking responsibility for the attack, he justified it, saying secular schools were “purposely built to fight Islam.”