Over 1,000 Boko Haram hostages in northeastern Nigeria have been freed, military spokesman Brigadier General Texas Chukwu said on Monday.
Although Nigeria’s military has attempted to rescue captives of the jihadist group before, many remain missing — including some of the school girls abducted from Chibok in 2014.
What we know
- Mostly women and children were rescued, but some men who had been forced to fight for Boko Haram were rescued as well.
- The rescues were carried out in four villages in the Bama area of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State.
- The military spokesman did not say when the rescues took place or over what period of time.
- Nigeria’s military and the Multinational Joint Task Force — comprised of troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin — took part in the rescues.
What is Boko Haram?
The extremist group’s name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden.” They are mostly active in northeastern Nigeria where they carry out kidnappings and suicide bomb attacks. Over 20,000 people have been killed during the group’s nine-year insurgency and 2.5 million people have fled the region.
In 2014, Boko Haram militants kidnapped 200 school girls from the town of Chibok, prompting international condemnation. Although some of the girls have been rescued, other victims remain missing. In February, around 110 girls in the town of Dapchi were kidnapped by Boko Haram but most were later released. The Nigerian government denies paying a ransom in exchange for the missing girls.
Despite repeatedly declaring that Boko Haram has been defeated, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is facing increasing pressure over the group’s ongoing attacks and abductions. Buhari vowed to combat the Islamic extremist group prior to his 2015 election win. He’s up for re-election next year. ― DW