Scores of Boko Haram Fighters Surrender: African Force

Scores of Boko Haram jihadists and their relatives have surrendered since July to an African multinational force in Niger and Cameroon, the force said Tuesday.

The Mixed Multinational Force was created in 1994 to combat cross-border crime, but its mandate was extended to include fighting Boko Haram, whose armed campaigns have spread from their Nigerian base to the three neighboring countries.

They are “14 men, 23 women, and 32 children”, said Lieutenant-Colonel Abubakar Abdullahi, the MMF’s military information spokesman.

“Wives are considered terrorists because they are used for suicide attacks,” he said.

A Boko Haram fighter who had escaped from a camp in Libye Soroa, Niger, surrendered to the MMF on  July 1 and handed over “an AK-47 rifle, four magazines and a large quantity of ammunition,” the international force said in a statement.

Fifty-six other people — 13 male members of Boko Haram, accompanied by their wives and children — surrendered following a “maritime operation by Cameroonian and Nigerian forces” on July 6 in Cameroon’s Far North, according to the same source.

On the same day, “12 members of terrorist families – five women and seven children – were rescued”, the statement added.

The MMF, which comprises the armed forces of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, also called on Boko Haram fighters to “lay down their arms and surrender to the authorities in order to establish lasting peace in the Lake Chad Basin region.”

These surrenders come at a time when an operation dubbed “Lake Sanity II” is under way.

The MFF’s objective is to track down, capture or neutralize members of Boko Haram based in the Lake Chad region, destroy their camps, and seize their weapons.

Launched in April, it is due to end on 24 July.

At the beginning of July, the regional military alliance announced the death of 70 jihadists in the Lake Chad area, which straddles Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad, during a military offensive.

The jihadist conflict began in 2009 in north-east Nigeria with Boko Haram, then with the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP), and has left 40,000 people dead and around 2 million displaced in Nigeria.

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