Boko Haram has recaptured the town of Marte in Nigeria's northeastern Borno State, a local official said Friday [May 15]. "Marte has today completely fallen under the control of the [Boko Haram] insurgents, which to us is a huge setback," Mustapha Zannah, deputy Borno State governor, told reporters.
Zannah also claimed that 600 women and girls had been dispatched by Boko Haram as potential suicide bombers to carry out bombings in Maiduguri, Borno State's provincial capital. The deputy governor urged local residents to be patient with the country's security agencies, despite the daily hardships caused by a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed by the local authorities.
"It's unfortunate that we have experienced yet another attack in Maiduguri when we had thought the insurgency had subsided following the military's capture of the Sambisa Forest [a Boko Haram stronghold]," he said. "Every other place should have been blocked so as to contain the insurgency... But this has not been the case, as the insurgents have fled to other communities," he added.
On Thursday, the Nigerian authorities imposed a 24-hour curfew on Maiduguri hours after Boko Haram attacked a local military barracks.
Zannah said that local authorities had been opposed to the curfew when it was first proposed by the military.
"But when we received a security report that about 600 women had been kitted as suicide bombers and are to be snuck into Maiduguri during the attack – coupled with the gory pictures of some of the women who detonated themselves during the attack – we had no option than to okay the curfew," he said.
"But the curfew has [since] been relaxed… to ease the hardship; afterwards, it may be reviewed," he noted.
The Nigerian military – backed by Nigerien and Chadian troops – recently liberated all territory captured earlier by Boko Haram in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. In the face of the government's recent onslaught, Boko Haram militants are believed to have retreated back into the Sambisa Forest, a notorious stronghold of the militant group.