On Saturday, January 6, the Nigerian army announced that 1050 Boko Haram members surrendered to government forces in the Lake Chad and Monguno areas. According to military officials, 250 fighters from the al-Barnaoui-led faction turned themselves following artillery and aerial bombardments around Lake Chad. Mamman Nur, one of the faction’s senior leaders, reportedly died after suffering wounds in an airstrike during the operations. The other militants surrendered in the Monguno area in Borno state. Authorities warned that fleeing Boko Haram members, including senior and junior leaders, will likely attempt to hide in communities around Kano, Geidam, Gashua, Hadejia, and the northern part of Jigawa state.
The counterinsurgency effort against Boko Haram that began in 2015, led by West African states (Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger), has greatly diminished the extent of the group’s effective territorial control. However, Boko Haram still routinely carries out deadly terrorist attacks, particularly in the northeastern region of Nigeria. Boko Haram frequently attacks private homes in villages, public venues (markets, places of worship, schools, bars, areas where broadcasts of sports competitions are displayed, etc.), security forces, and governmental buildings. The group's modus operandi frequently includes suicide bombings and kidnappings (regularly followed by assassinations and targeting primarily foreign nationals).
Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) in March 2015 and formally adopted the name of Islamic State in West Africa. Al-Barnaoui, son of Mohammed Yusuf - the founder of Boko Haram - was nominated by IS in August 2016 to replace Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram since 2009. Since then, the two leaders have been leading dissident factions with divergent ambitions, Al-Barnaoui blaming Shekau for massacring civilians rather than focusing on military targets.
Individuals in the abovementioned areas are advised to remain vigilant and follow any instructions issued by authorities.
The security environment in Nigeria is complex and is particularly concerning in the northeast and extreme south of the country due to the presence of armed groups, high crime rates, and the risk of kidnapping. Some Western governments consequently advise against travel to certain areas of the northeast (e.g. states of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, and Jigawa as well as parts of Kano and Adamawa states) and the southern Niger Delta region (e.g. states of Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers). Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel to these areas.
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