Tuesday, May 8, 2018

1,000 hostages rescued from Boko Haram in Nigeria

Nigeria's military says it has rescued more than 1,000 people held captive in northeastern Nigeria by the armed group Boko Haram.

Brigadier General Texas Chukwu, army spokesman, announced on Monday evening that the hostages were rescued from four villages in Borno State.

The Multinational Joint Task Force, which comprises Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin, helped to secure the release of the captives, mostly women and children.

Some men who had been forced to become Boko Haram fighters were among those rescued, the army said.

Boko Haram has been held responsible for thousands of abductions, especially of young girls and women, during its nine-year armed campaign in Nigeria and surrounding countries.

The group gained international notoriety after its fighters kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok in April 2014. About 100 girls are still missing.

More than 20,000 people have been killed in the fighting, which has also forced some two million to flee their homes.

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, explained that the rescued individuals will be taken to hospitals to be treated for wounds and ailments sustained in captivity.

"They will be profiled and de-briefed by security forces before they are rehabilitated and eventually returned to society," Idris said.

"For those who carried arms before, fighting the Nigerian state, they will have to undergo another rehabilitation process being conducted by the Nigerian government in another state ... as part of an operation called Operation Safe Corridor."

Leaders from the countries comprising the Multinational Joint Task Force will be meeting on Tuesday in Maiduguri to discuss the long-term strategy on how to deal with the Boko Haram crisis.

In March, a Boko Haram attack on the northeastern town of Rann left at least two aid workers, a doctor and eight soldiers dead.

In February, the group's fighters attacked another school in the northeastern state of Yobe and seized more than 110 schoolgirls. A month later, the government said 101 had been freed.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said earlier this year that the era of Boko Haram violence "is gradually drawing to end".

However, the group continues to launch attacks in the country's northeast.

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