Nigerian Army Rescues Hundreds of Hostages from Boko Haram

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The Nigerian army announced that it has rescued 350 hostages, predominantly children and women, from the clutches of Boko Haram extremists in northeastern Nigeria. The rescue operation, which spanned several days, culminated in the liberation of the captives from the Sambisa Forest, a notorious hideout for the extremist group.

Major General Ken Chigbu, a senior Nigerian army officer, presented the rescued hostages to authorities in Borno state late Monday. The hostages included 209 children, 135 women, and six men, all appearing exhausted and clad in worn-out clothes. Among the female hostages, some had babies believed to have been born from forced marriages, a grim reality for many girls and women subjected to sexual violence and forced unions during their captivity.

Hajara Umara, one of the freed hostages, shared her harrowing experience. “I always wanted to escape but couldn’t because of the children,” Umara said. “If they caught you trying to escape, they would torture you and imprison you indefinitely.” Umara was rescued along with her seven children, highlighting the immense challenges faced by captives who longed for freedom but were held back by the fear of retribution and concern for their children’s safety.

See Also: Troops Kill Boko Haram/ISWAP Terrorists In Pulka

The military operation that led to the rescue also resulted in the death of several extremists and the destruction of their makeshift shelters within the forest. The army transported the freed hostages to the Borno state government house, where they will be looked after until arrangements for their return home can be made.

The Sambisa Forest, once a vibrant forest reserve bordering Cameroon and Niger, has been transformed into a stronghold for Boko Haram and its splinter groups. From this enclave, the extremists have launched numerous attacks, not only within Nigeria but also targeting people and security forces in neighboring countries.

Boko Haram, a homegrown jihadi group, initiated its insurgency in 2009 with the aim of establishing Islamic Shariah law in Nigeria. The ensuing violence has claimed at least 35,000 lives and displaced 2.1 million people, according to United Nations agencies in Nigeria. The group’s notoriety reached global heights following the 2014 abduction of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno state, an event that shocked the world and highlighted the peril faced by students in the region.

In the years since, abductions have become a tragic norm, particularly in Nigeria’s northwestern and central regions, where armed groups frequently kidnap villagers and travelers for ransom. To date, at least 1,400 students have been kidnapped from Nigerian schools, a stark reminder of the ongoing security challenges in the country.

The rescue of these 350 hostages marks a hopeful chapter in Nigeria’s ongoing struggle against Boko Haram and underscores the resilience and determination of the Nigerian armed forces in their mission to restore peace and security to the region.

Source: Africa News

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