Nigeria’s military announced last week that it was raiding the Sambisa Forest, one of the last strongholds of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. Liberating the forest might be the hardest part of the campaign against the group.
Aided by regional troops and foreign mercenaries, Nigeria’s military has managed to take back nearly all of the towns and villages controlled by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeast over the past few months.
But one area remains mostly under their control: Sambisa, a massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states.
Boko Haram is thought to have retreated to this forest after being pushed out of cities like Gwoza and Bama. It is also thought to be where the group initially took the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped from the town of Chibok last year.
Nigeria’s national security spokesman announced last week that the military was going to retake the forest. Analysts and villagers from Chibok say ridding the forest of the extremists will be a stiff challenge.