A year ago, a dozen Nigerian troops fighting about 200 Boko Haram militants in the town of Chibok exhausted their ammunition and ran, leaving the road open for the abduction of nearly 300 girls.
Today, Nigerian soldiers are rescuing hundreds of kidnapped girls and women from the last forest stronghold of the Islamic insurgents.
The reason for the unimaginably swift shift in fortunes?
In the last three months, military forces from neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon have joined the battle. In addition, Nigerian troops are finally receiving better arms and weapons, as well as hazard pay that they had not received until this year.
As a result, Boko Haram’s supply lines are being cut off, creating conditions for the security forces to deliver a potential knockout blow to the extremists who have created havoc in northeastern Nigeria for years.
Nigeria’s military has announced that it has recaptured all major towns seized by the insurgents and that Boko Haram’s main fighting force is hemmed into the Sambisa Forest, where it is being pounded by air raids and attack helicopters. While the government forces are stronger, Boko Haram is growing weaker by the day.
Women rescued in recent days from forest camps said that now it is the insurgents who are running out of ammunition, along with food and fuel. That could explain why — when the captives refused to follow fleeing Boko Haram members last week — the militants did not shoot them. Instead, they stoned the girls and women, killing several of them.