MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA (REUTERS) — Nigeria's military said on Friday that it may have killed more than 50 Islamist insurgents in an airstrike on one of their main bases in the northeast of the country.
The latest strikes on Thursday targeted Boko Haram sect hideouts in the Gwoza hills, near the border with Cameroon.
May, the military stepped up an offensive against the Islamist group,
which is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, Africa's
most populous country split roughly evenly between Christians and
Muslims. President Jonathan declared a state of emergency and ordered in
"We had intelligence that Boko Haram were still
hiding somewhere around the Bita bush. Some villagers alerted us,"
Colonel Muhammad Dole, spokesman for Nigerian forces in the northeast,
"We may even have killed more than that 51 because
the pilot didn't capture the images at that time. Our troops are on
ground in the area now," he added, declining to give details of the
The military often reports large death tolls among
Islamists in fighting but rarely acknowledges significant casualties
on its side. It is usually impossible to verify the casualty figures.
House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Nigeria's federal
parliament, last week approved a six-month extension of a state of
emergency in areas where the offensive is going on.
Jonathan's military campaign tempered violence as soldiers wrested back
control of towns, cities and stretches of semi-desert in the
But the insurgents have proved resilient. Boko Haram
fighters retreated into semi-arid land near the northern border with
Niger and steep forested hills near Cameroon, from where they have
mounted deadly counter-attacks and have intensified killings of
---------Lanre Ola and Tim Cocks
Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters.