The Nigerian military on Thursday rescued about 71 people held hostage by the Boko Haram sect.
The captives were all all excited to be free — thanks to troops who subdued two Boko Haram camps in Chuogori and Shantumari, Borno State.
The seizure of the camps was spearheaded by troops from 21 Brigade and Nigerian Army Engineers.
In Kashingeri, Wale, Kushingari and other camps, 151 Task Force Battalion troops rescued 71 civilians from the terrorists’ camps.
Amid the success, the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, yesterday listed why the war had been tough.
- the military’s equipment was not enough;
- some fifth columnists in the military and other security agencies were leaking operational plans to the insurgents; and
- when the insurgency broke out in the Northeast, the military had been overstretched.
The Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, said troops dislodged insurgents from two camps yesterday and rescued 59 from three others.
In a statement last night, Col. Usman said: “As part of efforts to rid Nigeria of Boko Haram terrorists, troops of 21 Brigade and elements of Nigerian Army Engineers yesterday cleared a notorious terrorists’ camp at Chuogori and Shantumari, Borno State.
“During the offensive operations, the fleeing terrorists left underground silos.
“In addition, troops of 151 Task Force Battalion conducted operations on Kashingeri, Wale and Kushingari Boko Haram terrorists camps today.
During the raids, quite a number of the terrorists were killed; a Landrover vehicle and a tipper were recovered.
“The troops also rescued 59 civilians that were held captive by the terrorists and cleared the camps.”
Some of the captives told The Associated Press that they were in the clutches of the extremists for as long as a year.
“I was waiting for death … they often threatened to kill us,” said Yagana Kyari, a woman in her 20s, who said she had been kidnapped from her village of Kawuri and taken to a militant camp in Walimberi, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Maiduguri.
Kyari said they often went hungry because the extremists never provided enough food.
“Our gallant troops have rescued 59 civilians in two camps of the terrorist group,” army spokesman Col. I.T. Gusau said. “Many of the terrorists were killed in the course of the operations, but mop-up is still going on.”
The 59, all women and children except for five elderly men, were freed on Thursday, he said. Another 12 women and girls were rescued Wednesday from Kilakisa, 90 kilometres (55 miles) southwest of Maiduguri, he said.