Nigeria’s military said it captured the northeastern town of Gwoza from Boko Haram on Friday, driving the Islamist insurgents out of one of their last remaining strongholds in the region.
Soldiers captured the town that Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters described as “the headquarters of the terrorists’ self-styled caliphate” in a post on its Twitter account. The military said the security forces killed “several terrorists,” captured “many more” and were “mopping up” in the town, about 716 kilometers (445 miles) north of Abuja, the capital.
Nigerian troops have been joined by forces from neighboring Chad and Niger to intensify the campaign against Boko Haram before presidential and parliamentary elections on March 28. The militants have killed at least 1,000 civilians this year, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch, and prompted a six-week vote delay after the military said it needed time to subdue the insurgents.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan thanked troops for their “immense sacrifices” and for recapturing “most of the communities and territories formerly occupied” by Boko Haram in a state broadcast Friday.