The Nigerian authorities say nearly 1000 members of the militant group Boko Haram have surrendered to the military in the northeast of the country.
At a press conference in the capital Abuja on Thursday, a spokesperson for Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters, Major General Musa Danmadami, said those who surrendered include ‘’77 adult males, 364 adult females and 533 children.’’
He said the surrender in the past two weeks followed a series of military operations against the armed group in the region. At least 21 militants were killed and a number of others captured, and some civilians kidnapped by the armed group freed during the operations, he added.
Major General Danmadami said ‘’the surrendered terrorists and members of their families’’ were being profiled ‘’for further action.’’ The army general said the freed captives were being given medical attention.
The Nigerian military has also announced that they had arrested people suspected of being ‘’logistics suppliers’’ for the militants.
Usually, militants who voluntarily surrender to the Nigerian authorities are sent to special centres for de-radicalisation and rehabilitation. Whilst at the centres, they receive vocational training before being reintegrated into the society.
Nigeria and its neigbours including Niger, Cameroun and Chad have been trying to defeat Boko Haram and its offshoot known as ISWAP with a multinational military force consisting of thousands of troops.
The security forces have been carrying out air and ground operations targeting the militants in their hideouts - mainly around the Lake Chad and the vast Sambisa Forest. The armed group launched an insurgency in 2009 beginning in northeast Nigeria.
The conflict has caused the deaths of nearly 350 thousand people across the region, according to the UN. Millions of others have been displaced from their communities.
Troops have recorded some successes in recent years with thousands of militants either surrendering or being killed and their captives freed. However, they still carry out sporadic deadly attacks on military and civilian targets.
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari who is due to step down on May 29 after serving two terms, had made tackling the Boko Haram insurgency one of his key priorities when he came to power in 2015.