Accessibility links

Breaking News

Former Boko Haram Captives Describe Deaths During Rescue

Women gather at a camp for Internally Displaced People as more women and children rescued from Sambisa arrive in the camp in Yola, Nigeria May 3, 2015.

A Nigerian military rescue operation ended months of captivity for hundreds of women and children who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram militants, but also resulted in some deaths from a land mine blast or being run over by heavy vehicles, according to survivors.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said Sunday the group of 275 rescued last week in northeastern Nigeria arrived at a refugee camp where they will be receiving medical care and trauma counseling.

Several of the women there described what happened after the military arrived to free them. They said some of the women were hiding in bushes where soldiers did not see them, and died when an armored personnel carrier drove through.

The women also said that because there were so many people who were freed, not everyone could fit inside the military vehicles, leaving some to walk behind the convoy. It was there, they said, that someone stepped on a land mine, setting off an explosion that killed three women.

NEMA had reported at least one death and several injuries during the rescue operation.

A camp official said many of the children were being treated for critical malnourishment and 21 others were receiving care for gunshot wounds and fractured limbs. Many Boko Haram female captives are used as sex slaves and human shields.

Officials say they are trying to determine where the women and children are from, saying they do not appear to be from the group of 200 schoolgirls kidnapped last year in Chibok.

Several hundred women and children have been rescued from the forest region in the past week.