Hundreds of Boko Haram jihadists have fled a forest enclave in northeast Nigeria, escaping air strikes by the military and floods from torrential rains to seek shelter on Niger’s side of Lake Chad, sources told AFP.
Northeast Nigeria is facing a 13-year armed insurgency by jihadist groups that has killed more than 40,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes. The violence has spilled into neighbouring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, with the jihadists maintaining camps in the vast Lake Chad region straddling the four countries.
A Nigerian security source said there had been an exodus of Boko Haram militants from the Sambisa forest since last month due to a sustained bombing campaign on their hideouts. Nigeria has also recorded a more intensive rainy season, which usually runs from May through September, and floods have occurred in almost every part of the country.
“The exodus of the Boko Haram terrorists has increased in recent days as the bombardments have intensified, coupled with the floodings that have submerged many of their camps,” said the security source in the region who asked not to be identified.