Nigerian Military receives 605 repentant Boko Haram-ISWAP fighters

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… As Ethiopia threatens to deploy after rebel advances

By Jacob Kubeka (ABUJA) –

In an intelligence-driven operation, the Nigerian military has so far received 605 ISWAP Boko Haram members who laid down their arms and surrendered to the troops.

According to PRNigeria, 229 of the members who are mostly women and children have been handed over to the Borno state government.

This came as Ethiopia warned on Friday it could deploy its “entire defensive capability” after advances by Tigrayan rebels into neighbouring regions.

Ethiopian soldiers rest in front of the entrance to the 5th Battalion of the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Army in Dansha, Ethiopia, on November 25, 2020. PHOTO | Eduardo Soteras | AFP

The government “is being pushed to mobilise and deploy the entire defensive capability of the state if its humanitarian overtures for a peaceful resolution of the conflict remain unreciprocated,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The action of the irresponsible group is testing the federal government’s patience and pushing it to change its defensive mood which has been taken for the sake of the unilateral humanitarian ceasefire.”

In recent weeks, many Boko Haram fighters and their families wilfully denounced their evil campaigns and surrendered to the Nigerian Army.

Quoting a top intelligence operative involved in the operation, the Abuja-based news medium said the exercise for the repentant terrorists and their families adhered to international laws and best practices, relating to enemies willing to surrender.

According to the senior officer, some of the former fighters were afraid they could be killed if they surrendered but were persuaded by their spouses and parents.

The officer said: “Surprisingly, their parents and wives gave them encouragement that they would stand by them if they surrender to troops.

“The intelligence efforts are invisible but manifesting in current outcomes. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Faruk Yahaya encourages a mixed technique of kinetic and non-kinetic operations that are humane in nature as he instructed that while we accept those willing to surrender, we should not spare the stubborn one by sending them to where they belong.

“The sustained and well-coordinated military operation has exerted pressure on the terrorists who have deserted their various hideouts and camps, while their members who felt being misled are surrendering with their families to the Nigerian troops

“During profiling, some of the Commanders who surrendered to troops admitted that their various enclaves are bedevilled by hunger, disease, and the perpetual fear of military offensives.

“The media are key to shaping the troops’ resolve to continue their aggressive posture, while the citizens maintain their confidence on the military efforts on Counter-Terrorism,” he said.

Earlier Friday, the spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebuffed calls to withdraw from the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions.

The comments came a day after the rebels seized Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Amhara, the latest turn in the nine-month-old conflict.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had declared a unilateral ceasefire in late June after TPLF forces retook the Tigrayan capital Mekele.

Top US officials have urged the TPLF to withdraw from the regions east and south of Tigray and called on all sides to cease hostilities and focus instead on addressing the humanitarian “catastrophe” in Tigray.

(with additional report by AFP)

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