85 hostages have been rescued from Nigeria’s Boko Haram militant group by Chadian armed forces, it was reported on Friday.
An unnamed Nigerian security officer told news agency Agence France-Presse that security forces on the Chad-Nigeria border intercepted a convoy carrying the hostages after “the huge number of people in the convoy raised suspicion”.
The freed hostages had been taken in the aftermath of a boat raid on the remote fishing village of Doron Baga on 10th August. The village, which sits in the Kukawa area on the border with Chad, saw scores of homes burned and 26 locals killed by the Islamist group. The militants then kidnapped almost 100 villagers, including young boys who would be trained and made to join the group, according to eyewitnesses.
The kidnapped villagers were released after the convoy was unable to provide details of a destination to the Chadian forces. The rescued hostages remain in Chadian custody while militants are still holding at least 30 villagers.
Several militants guiding the convoy escaped on speedboats disclosed an officer with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.
Borno is one of the three Nigerian states to have declared a “state of emergency” due to the dramatic rise in Boko Haram’s activities in recent months. The jihadists are responsible for at least 2,000 deaths and the displacement of 650,000 people in this year alone.
The group, Boko Haram means “western education is forbidden” in Hausa language, launched military operations in 2009 and acts predominantly in the north-eastern regions of Nigeria, with the aim of establishing an Islamic state in the regions covering Nigeria and Cameroon.
Boko Haram made international headlines in mid-April this year, when they kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, in Borno state. It is believed that the abducted girls are still being held by the group in the Sambisa forests on the Nigeria-Cameroon border.
Thomas Rhys Jones