Nigerian troops win back cities from extremists
With a military escort instead of the usual pomp, the Emir of Mubi was reinstalled in his palace, where until recently flew the black-and-white flag of Nigeria's Islamic extremists, Boko Haram.
Mubi: With a military escort instead of the usual pomp, the Emir of Mubi was reinstalled in his palace, where until recently flew the black-and-white flag of Nigeria's Islamic extremists, Boko Haram.
An army tank now guards Mubi's town gate, fortified by sandbags, as residents return from the mountain hideouts where they hid while their city was held for more than a month by the Islamic militants.
After weeks of setbacks and reports that soldiers ran away when Boko Haram attacked, Nigeria's military, including newly deployed Special Forces, went on the offensive two weeks ago and have recaptured some cities and towns that had been held by the militants.
All is not yet back to normal in Mubi. Bodies of militants still litter one street testimony to hard fighting by Nigerian soldiers who won back the town a week ago. They were helped by air raids, traditional hunters armed with guns and spears as well as vigilantes carrying clubs prickling with nails and other homemade weapons.
The emir's cavalcade drove by bombed out buildings, burned out armored personnel carriers, vandalized banks and government offices looted when the extremists seized the town in October.
Banks are still shut and cell phone service is disconnected but the dozens of people who have returned home welcomed their traditional Muslim monarch, Emir Abubakar Isa Ahmadu.
"We appreciate the gallant efforts of the Nigerian military, hunters and vigilantes that saw the liberation of our towns," he told a handful of cheering supporters gathered to welcome him home.
Later, at Friday prayers, the ruler said he was optimistic that other centers in northeastern Nigeria will soon be won back from Boko Haram.
"As you can see, we have started opening our shops in a peaceful atmosphere," said market trader Malam Garba Musa. "This is a welcome development, because when the Boko Haram guys were having a field day, they could pounce on you callously at any time."
Mubi, a major commercial center with an important cattle market that draws traders from across Nigeria's borders, is the biggest city, with a population estimated at more than 200,000, to be recaptured. Others include Gombi, Hong and Maiha.