Nigerian troops have arrested some 3,332 Boko Haram suspects within three weeks, a senior commander said Thursday.
Lucky Irabor, a major general and commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, responsible for fighting the insurgents in northeast Nigeria, said the military had also made an unprecedented capture of arms within the period.
He said an anti-aircraft gun was amongst the recovered weapons.
Mr. Irabor, who disclosed this at a press conference at the headquarters of the Theatre Command, said the arrested suspects were being interrogated to determine their levels of complicity.
“At this level of the counterinsurgency operations, anyone found in the hinterlands or raided camps is deemed a suspect until investigation prove otherwise,” he said.
He also disclosed that an army officer, whom he identified as Captain Adeosun, was killed in an IED attack on January 24. He said four Boko Haram insurgents were killed as soldiers repelled the attack.
Mr. Irabor presented a man he said was a Boko Haram member who had surrendered.
The man, who gave his name as Muhammed Abubakar, told journalists that his colleagues amputated his leg and hand when they suspected he was about to leave them.
Mr. Irabor said the fight against Boko Haram terrorists had been won “tactically”, despite pockets of attacks that have continued.
He requested the support of the public and the media in ensuring the success of the war.
“I must say the media has been wonderful in their job as far as this operation is concerned,” he said.
“We may have one or two issues that we may not agree on, but what has come very clear in our mind is the willingness of everybody to see that things move from where they are. And we have to know that terrorism is all about instilling fear in people. And to overcome that we must ensure confidence building and not promoting fear. As such, we have to make people understand that their security is guaranteed by not giving in to fear.”