The Nigeria Army said it had arrested about 1,240 suspected Boko Haram terrorists during a mop-up operation by troops in Sambisa Forest.

The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, disclosed this while briefing newsmen on the activities of the Operation Rescue Final at the Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri.

Irabor said 413 of the suspects were adults; 323 were female adults; 251 male children, while 253 were female children.

He stated, We are interrogating them to know whether they are Boko Haram members, because there is no way somebody that is not a member would live inside the Sambisa Forest.

We are still on the trail of the terrorists and I want to assure you that all escape routes have been blocked.

Within this period, also, about 30 fleeing suspected Boko Haram members have surrendered to the Niger Multinational Troops on the shores of the Lake Chad and we learnt that they were taken to Difa in Niger Republic.

The suspects include 24 males and six females.

We will like to use this opportunity to encourage the terrorists to give up the fight because the window is still open.

Irabor added that the Army had recovered a Qu’ran, and a Boko Haram flag, suspected to belong to the terrorists’ leader, Abubakar Shekau, in Sambisa Forest.

Irabor noted that the book would be handed over to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, for onward delivery to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Irabor added that 15 new Boko Haram members were arrested by the troops in the Sambisa area on Christmas and Boxing days, stating that the troops would sustain the momentum.

He said, We have made a lot of arrests and recoveries. Our troops in the Damboa area arrested about 15 Boko Haram members. We also apprehended one Musa from the Potiskum area on Christmas day. On December 26, the Boxing Day, troops also intercepted and arrested two Boko Haram members in Maiduguri.

We found a Holy Book, Quran, in the forest. We believe that the Holy Book and the flag were abandoned by Abubakar Shekau, while he escaped.

We warn residents of the state to be wary of people coming to hide in and around their houses. We are also warning residents to report any suspected Boko Haram members hiding in their houses to the relevant security agencies. Failure to do this will amount to supporting and sympathising with the terrorists’ activities.

Irabor, who restated that the military would live up to its expectations, urged Nigerians to support the military to achieve greater success.

The commander promised to fish out the fleeing Boko Haram terrorists, adding that the operation would continue despite capturing the Sambisa Forest.