Over 3,000 people have returned to Damasak Borno State, northeast Nigeria following the clearance of Boko Haram terrorists stronghold in Sambisa forest.
Nigeria Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, on Monday said Sambisa forest would now serve as training ground for officers of the Nigerian Army as from next year.*
Buratai made the revelation in Damasak, Borno, northeast Nigeria while celebrating Christmas with troops of 145 Battalion after the road leading to the town was reopened by the state Governor Kashim Shettima, three years after closure.
We are going to make it more robust to make sure that these criminals do not come back to that forest again.
He said he had already directed that they conduct Nigerian Army small arms championship in the forest by next year.
“It will afford us very good ground for basic tactics and indeed advance tactics, including but not limited to tactics at the Platoon, company, battalion, Brigade and even division levels.
“We are going to make it more robust to make sure that these criminals do not come back to that forest again,” he said.
According to him, the forest will be used also to test fire fighting vehicles, and other key equipment and weapons that requires testing.
Sambisa forest was the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram stronghold but the Nigerian army on Friday drove the militants away from the camp.
The forest is a huge former colonial game reserve in north-eastern Borno state.
There has been speculation that some of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014 were being held in the forest, after it was named by a small number of girls who escaped.
Buhari said that efforts to find the remaining girls would be intensified.
PHOTO: Nigerian troops dismantling the official Boko Haram flag at Parisu, Camp Zairo in Sambisa forest capture of the BHT Headquarters pic.twitter.com/jconMZiXhk— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) December 26, 2016
The army has recaptured significant areas of territory previously controlled by Boko Haram since an offensive began in February.
However, the militant group still stages suicide bombings in the northeast of Nigeria and in neighbouring Niger and Cameroon.