Hundreds of Boko Haram fighters and their families have reportedly surrendered in Chad.
According to Reuters, UN sources as well as security forces in Chad confirmed that several members of the jihadist group have ceded.
Boko Haram, which originated in north-eastern Nigeria, has occasionally staged cross-border attacks in west African countries like Cameroon, Niger and Chad. It has amassed a territory that is the size of Belgium in north Eastern Nigeria.
However, reports show that it is increasingly losing ground due to the offensive launched by the military of these countries set up to fight the insurgents.
The security sources who informed Reuters believe the Boko Haram fighters are recent recruits, whom the terrorist group have been unable to retain. This is, however, the first report of a large scale defection from the group.
“They are mostly Chadians and appear to all be more recent recruits,” Stephen Tull, U.N. Resident Coordinator in Chad said.
Colonel Mohammad Dole, Chief Military Public Information Officer for the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) headquartered in Chad’s capital N’Djamena said that the recruits were surrendering due to the attack launched by the MNJTF.
“They surrendered to our troops on the front line in Lake Chad,” said Colonel Mohammad Dole.
“The surrenders are taking place because of the firepower of our operations. The groups, many of them armed, have been arriving since September and their number keeps increasing,” he said.
Colonel Dole added that the defectors are now being held in detention.
The MNJTF together with the military troops from Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Benin, as well as intelligence, training and logistical support from the United States, launched an offensive in the Chad region earlier this year.
2.6 million people living around the Lake Chad basin ( where Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon meet) have reportedly been displaced.
Ryan Cummings, director of consultancy Signal Risk, however said that Boko Haram were more intrested in recruiting fighters in the poverty-stricken region than anything else.
“Their presence in Chad was more for recruitment and for resources. Its strikes in the country were punitive.”