News / Africa

    Freed Hostages Say Boko Haram Lacks Weapons

    FILE - Journalists look at arms and ammunition which military commanders say they seized from Islamic fighters, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, June 5, 2013.
    FILE - Journalists look at arms and ammunition which military commanders say they seized from Islamic fighters, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, June 5, 2013.

    Two Cameroonian hostages who managed to escape from Boko Haram captivity in Nigeria have returned to Cameroon. They say the insurgent group used them and hundreds of others in a camp to loot and kill.

    Former hostage 32-year old Gaullaume Minka said he was taken to Nigeria along with 7 other men by 15 heavily armed suspected Boko Haram fighters who seized their transport bus near the northern Cameroon town of Kousseri on the night of January 23.  He said he knew he was in Nigeria because their captors spoke English and Kanouri, languages spoken in northern Nigeria. 

    He said while in Nigeria, he and the others were told they would be freed only if $4,000 was paid by their families or the government or if they themselves went out and stole the money.

    Gaullaume said they were chained by their legs for two weeks. They could only have a meal on a day when some of the captives succeeded in stealing cattle, rice and other livestock. When some Nigerian and Cameroonians held in captivity were taken out from the camp to steal, he decided to escape into the forest with Sylvian Nradim, another Cameroonian held in captivity. They were later found in the forest by Cameroonian soldiers and taken to the town of Maroua after identification and handed to the governor of far north Cameroon, Midjiyawa Bakari.

    Sylvian Nradim said that while in captivity they were given machetes to use in attacking people.

    Last month Cameroon government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary said about 5,000 cows and smaller animals have been stolen since the country started fighting Boko Haram three years ago. He said that Boko Haram's fire-power had been weakened since then and the group was now resorting to kidnapping people.

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