Nigerian troops have freed hundreds of hostages held by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in recent counter-terrorism efforts in Nigeria’s northeast.
The military missions, aimed at driving out terrorists and rescuing their captives, freed 829 people last week. The army rescued 520 people in the village of Kusumma, and 309 others from 11 other villages. Troops have also rescued 72 people held captive in northeast villages in two “clearance operations,” army Public Relations Director Sani Usman said in statements Sunday. The group still holds an unknown number of hostages.
“The gallant troops cleared the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists hibernating in Kala Balge general area,” Usman said of one of last week’s missions.
Soldiers also destroyed a terrorist training camp, warehouse, and factory in Tilem, a northeast village, he added. Twenty-nine insurgents were killed and troops recovered weapons from Boko Haram hiding spots in the operations that freed 72 people.
Since 2013, Boko Haram has carried out mass abductions in Nigeria and neighboring countries in its quest to drive out Western influence and establish an Islamist state. The kidnapping of 276 Chibok schoolgirls in 2014 brought the group to global attention, birthing the viral hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Two years later, 219 girls are still missing. Last week, one of two girls arrested in north Cameroon carrying explosives claimed to be one of the kidnapped girls.