While yet unverified, the operation would represent a major victory in the ongoing fight against the militant extremist organization.
Image via (cc) Flickr user fleshmanpix
More than 300 hostages, many of them women and children, have been rescued by the Nigerian military after being held hostage by the militant extremist group Boko Haram, reports The New York Times. While the massive operation has yet to be independently verified, it would, if true, represent a major blow against the terrorist organization.
An entry posted Wednesday on the Nigerian military’s Facebook page describes the rescue of 338 people—eight men, 138 women, and 192 children—after a military operation on the outskirts of the Sambisa Forest, in Nigeria’s northeast region. It also features several gory pictures of slain fighters, as well as images of arms that the military claims it recovered from the Boko Haram stronghold. In full, the post reads:
Image via DefenceInfoNG // Facebook
TROOPS CLEARED MORE BOKO HARAM TERRORISTS CAMPS AND RESCUES ABDUCTEES
Troops of 28 Task Force Brigade Nigerian Army deployed at Bitta and Pridang carried out a successful raid on suspected Boko Haram terrorists camps at Bulajilin and Manawashe villages along Bita and Damboa road at the fringes of Sambisa forest on Tuesday. The troops were able to killed 30 Boko Haram terrorists.
The unit also rescued 338 persons that were held captive by the terrorists in the enclaves. The rescued persons which comprised of male 8, female 138 and children 192, have since been evacuated to Mubi. Troops also recovered arms and ammunitions during the raid operation which include 1 General Purpose Machine Gun and 2 Dane Guns, 150 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO), 6 boxes of 7.62mm (NATO) and 3 cutlasses.
In a related development, troops based on a tip off, ambushed and killed 4 suspected Boko Haram terrorists on a suicide bombing mission to Gubula, Madagali Local Government Area, Adamawa State. Apart from 2 AK-47 rifles recovered, the troops also recovered some Unexploded Ordinances (UXOs), mortar bombs and cash sum of N153,385k was retrieved.
It is worthy to note that the raid operation on the Boko Haram Terrorists enclave coincided with the Chief of Army Staff’s operational visit to the Brigade Headquarters in Mubi.
The successful clearance operations and ambushing of the terrorists has further degraded them and saved the lives of so many innocent victims of their suicide bombings.
Therefore, we are appealing for continued vigilance, security consciousness and above all cooperation with the military and security agencies to enable us successfully defeat the terrorists.
Analysts and outside observers, however, urge caution before this rescue mission is deemed a success. Speaking with The New York Times, Boko Haram expert Elizabeth Donnelly pointed to a history of fuzzy verification when it comes to reporting victories over Boko Haram fighters. “The trust issue comes from a legacy of poor communication from the armed forces over Boko Haram activity,” she explained, although the Times notes that the recent election of Nigeria’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, has brought with it an expectation of more accurate and accountable military information.
Boko Haram burst into many people’s consciousness in 2014, after the group abducted over 270 Chibok schoolgirls, prompting international outcry, and inspiring the global #BringBackOurGirls movement. It is unclear whether any of the people rescued in this latest military action belong to that initial group of abductees. In fact, as recently as October 2, members of the Nigerian military made public statements dampening expectations for the speedy return of the kidnapped schoolgirls. In an interview with TheNews.ng, Col. Rabe Abubakar, the acting director of defense information at the military headquarters in the Nigerian capital city of Abuja, explained:
“The issue of the low morale of the Nigerian military men has now become a thing of the past. The operation to recover the Chibok girls is alive and still ongoing. We have continued to make rescue efforts, and we will do all within our powers to bring the girls.
“However, we will not rush to do this. It requires diligent intervention and a high-level operation to rescue the girls. In due time, every captive of Boko Haram will be released. A lot of achievements have been recorded recently, and this cannot be disconnected from the high morale of the army.”
Since its founding in 2002, Boko Haram has been responsible for thousands of deaths across Nigeria, as well as in Chad, Niger, and parts of Cameroon. An attack in early 2015 on the Nigerian towns of Baga and Doron Baga wiped both communities from the map and left over 2,000 people dead.
This latest Nigerian military offensive against Boko Haram is part of President Buhari’s initiative to destroy the militant group once and for all by this December.