ABUJA, May 19 (Xinhua) -- At least 43 extremist militants in Nigeria's northeast region were killed in the past three weeks by troops undertaking anti-terror operations in that part of the country, the military said Thursday.
Bernard Onyeuko, a spokesman for the military, told reporters at a news briefing in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that the troops also arrested 20 other militants and rescued 63 kidnapped victims during the operations which took place at different locations in the troubled northeast region between April 28 and May 19.
Onyeuko said a total of 1,627 militants and their families, comprising 331 Men, 441 women, and 855 children, surrendered to the troops at different locations between May 1 and May 14. This brings to a total of 53,262 the number of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) militants and their families who have so far surrendered to the troops, as of May 16, the military official said.
He said the troops recorded huge successes during the operations, including the killing of a spiritual head of Boko Haram identified as Malam Shehu, and some of his foot soldiers during a clearance operation in their enclaves at the Jaje, Mango Ali, Dissa, Balangaje areas of the northeastern state of Borno.
On May 14, the troops also killed a top Boko Haram commander identified as Abubakar Sarki, and his fighters in Yuwe, a militants' location in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno, the military official said, adding Malam Modu Pantami, a top Boko Haram logistics supplier, was apprehended on the outskirts of Benishiek Village in the Kaga local government area of the state. Pantami was apprehended when he was attempting to transport a large quantity of logistics items to the militants, Onyeuko told reporters.
"All surrendered Boko Haram militants, recovered items, rescued civilians, and captured terrorists have been handed over to appropriate authorities for further actions," said the spokesman.
Boko Haram has been collaborating with its sister group, the ISWAP, to establish an Islamist state in northeast Nigeria. The terrorist groups have also extended their attacks to other countries in the Lake Chad Basin.