Military: Boko Haram hostages held in severe, inhuman conditions

2015-04-30 19:53
A Boko Haram flag flutters from an abandoned command post in Gamboru deserted after Chadian troops chased them from the border town. (Stephane Yas, AFP)

A Boko Haram flag flutters from an abandoned command post in Gamboru deserted after Chadian troops chased them from the border town. (Stephane Yas, AFP)

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Abuja - Boko Haram hostages were held in atrocious conditions in the group's Sambisa Forest stronghold, Nigeria's military said on Thursday after nearly 500 women and girls were released this week.

"Whoever they may be, the important thing is that Nigerians held captive under very severe and inhuman conditions have been freed by our gallant troops," defence spokesperson Chris Olukolade said.

He told reporters in Abuja the army would "comprehensively" clean out the forest, adding: "There is great hope for the recovery of more hostages of the terrorists."

Some 200 girls and 93 women were freed from camps within the former colonial era game reserve on Tuesday while the army said on Thursday that about 160 more hostages had been rescued.

The rescues raised hopes for the liberation of 219 girls snatched from their school in the Borno state town of Chibok on April 14 last year, which caused global outrage.

Nigeria's military released a series of photographs purporting to show some of the rescued women and children in an undisclosed location, huddled on the ground watched over by soldiers.

One very young child pictured appeared to be in a state of malnutrition.

Olukolade said air force jets had been bombarding the forest, which he described as Boko Haram's "last bastion" in the northeast after being pushed out of captured towns.

He told a news conference that in the last few days, more than 13 camps had been captured. Equipment such as armoured personnel carriers, pick-up trucks and weapons were seized.

"Several" field commanders and foot soldiers were killed, he added, without specifying numbers, while one soldier was also killed and 10 wounded.

"The true identity of some of the rescued women and girls are yet to be ascertained," said Olukolade.

"At the moment, what is uppermost and of priority is their movement to a conducive place where they are now undergoing thorough profiling to verify their true identity, where they come from, how they found themselves in the forest, etc.

"Additional numbers of persons are still being recovered from the forest. Until such comprehensive profiling is done, nobody can confirm whether they are among the Chibok girls or not."

Read more on:    boko haram  |  nigeria  |  west africa

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