Nigeria Rescues Hundreds of Women and Children from Boko Haram Captivity

The Nigerian army has announced the rescue of hundreds of hostages, primarily children, and women, who had been held captive for months or even years by the extremist group Boko Haram in the northeastern part of the country. These 350 hostages were freed from the Sambisa Forest, a known hideout for the insurgent group that launched its violent campaign in 2009.

Major General Ken Chigbu, a senior army officer, presented the rescued individuals to authorities in Borno state, where the forest is located. The group consisted of 209 children, 135 women, and six men, appearing exhausted in tattered clothing. Some of the girls had babies, likely born from forced marriages – a common plight for female captives who are either raped or coerced into marrying the militants during their captivity.

One of the rescued women, Hajara Umara, spoke of her inability to escape due to her seven children. She explained, “I always wanted to escape but couldn’t because of the children. If they caught you trying to escape, they would torture you and imprison you indefinitely.”

According to the army, the hostages were freed during a multi-day military operation in the Sambisa Forest. The forest was once a thriving reserve but is now a stronghold from which Boko Haram and its splinter factions launch attacks targeting people and security forces in Nigeria and neighboring countries like Cameroon and Niger.

The freed hostages were transported to the Borno state government house, where authorities will provide care until they can return home. The army also reported killing some extremists and destroying their makeshift dwellings during the rescue operation.