Hundreds of Hostages Freed From Terrorist Group in Nigeria

Hundreds of Hostages Freed From Terrorist Group in Nigeria

Nigeria’s army rescued 350 hostages, mostly women and children, this week from the grip of radical Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram after months or years of captivity.

According to International Christian Concern, Nigerian forces rescued 209 children, 135 women and six men from the Sambisa Forest, deep in Boko Haram’s territory in the North of the nation. The operation lasted days. Some of the jihadists were killed and their makeshift homes destroyed during the efforts.

Some of the women and girls had given birth during their captivity, most likely the result of rape or forced marriage to their captors.

One mother of seven, Hajara Umara, told the Associated Press that she always wanted to escape, but couldn’t because of the children. “If they caught you trying to escape,” she said, “they would torture you and imprison you indefinitely.” She and her children were rescued in this week’s operation.

Those who were rescued reportedly have been turned over to authorities in Nigeria’s Borno state, who will see to their needs until they can return home.

The Sambisa Forest, formerly a forest and game reserve, has served as Boko Haram’s extremist hideout from which the group and its breakaway factions launch its attacks.

Boko Haram launched its insurgency in 2009, and since then, at least 35,000 people have been killed and 2.1 million displaced as a result of the violence. Extremists have kidnapped at least 1,400 students since the 2014 abduction of 276 girls from the village of Chikbok, in a heavily Christian area.

The aim of Boko Haram (whose name means “Western education is forbidden”) is to overthrow Nigeria’s government and Islamize the nation through Shariah law. Attacks against Christians by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen have been nearly constant, with the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law reporting that more than 8,000 Christians were killed in Nigeria in 2023.

Photo: Jossa Olatunji / Associated Press

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