Nigerians Return to Northeastern Town After Militants Defeated

More than 3,000 residents returned to the northeastern Nigerian town of Damasak after the army’s defeat of Islamist militants enabled the re-opening of the Maiduguri-Gubio-Damasak road on Christmas Day, the West African nation’s military said.

“Most of the returnees who had been earlier displaced by serial attacks on the community by Boko Haram insurgents, are returning from Niger Republic and Maiduguri where they had earlier taken refuge,” military spokesman Sani Usman said in an e-mailed statement Monday.

Nigeria announced this month it began a final offensive to end its fight against Islamist-militant group Boko Haram’s seven-year insurgency, which has left an estimated 20,000 people dead and displaced 2.4 million more. President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired general who has vowed to end the conflict, said in a Dec. 24 statement that Nigerian troops “crushed” a camp in the Sambisa forest, a Boko Haram stronghold.

Local government officials, community and village elders, religious leaders and vigilante groups have held meetings to vet the returnees and work out a plan for their resettlement, Usman said.

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