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Nigeria military recaptures Boko Haram HQ ahead of presidential election

Nigeria's military has confirmed that it has retaken the northeastern town of Gwoza, home to the headquarters of Boko Haram. The offensive is a crucial victory just a day before the country's presidential election.

In a statement released on Friday, army spokesman Chris Olukolade said "several of the terrorists have died and many of them have been captured" from Gwoza and nearby towns and villages.

"A lot of arms and ammunition have been recovered and the administrative headquarters of Boko Haram completely destroyed," the statement added.

Olukolade also said a search had been launched in a bid to locate any fleeing terrorists belonging to the Islamist group or hostages in their custody.

'Election propaganda'

Prior to the recapture of Gwoza, President Goodluck Jonathan (pictured above, right) promised the nation that the northeastern Nigerian town would be liberated by Friday.

Many of Jonathan's critics, however, dismissed the pledge as election propaganda ahead of Saturday's presidential vote.

The election, which had been postponed for six weeks due to fears of an attack by Boko Haram militants, is only the eighth since independence from Britain in 1960.

'High expectations'

The Nigerian vote will be closely-watched by world governments and organizations on Saturday, as the

country heads to the polls

in what will be one of the closest races in the Nigeria's history - pitting Jonathan against former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari (pictured above, left).

In a bid to prevent a repeat of 2011, however, when 1,000 people were killed in clashes after the results were announced, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Friday called for transparent and peaceful elections.

"The international community has high expectations that Nigeria will provide leadership in setting a high standard for this election," Ban said in a statement.

Ban also urged both candidates and supporters to "resolve disputes that may arise from the electoral process through peaceful means."

Voting is due to begin at 1:30 p.m. local time (12:30 UTC) on Saturday.

ksb/bk (AFP, AP, dpa)

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