Accessibility links

Breaking News

Nigeria: Army Rescues 178 from Boko Haram

Nigerian military forces have rescued 178 people being held by the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram in the northeast of the country.

Of those freed, 101 were children, 67 were women and the rest were men, military spokesman Colonel Tukur Gusau said late Sunday.

The Nigerian Air Force reported killing "a large number'' of militants while helping ground troops repel an attack on Bitta village, 50 kilometers southwest of the army operations that took place around Bama in northeastern Borno state.

Sunday's statements did not specify when the attacks occurred.

Last week, the army rescued 71 kidnapped people.

Boko Haram militants frequently raid villages and kidnap residents, forcing them to convert to Islam.

A Boko Haram raid in which nearly 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped from a small town in the northeast last year made global headlines and condemnation of the Islamic extremist group. More than 200 of the girls are still missing, although hundreds of others have been freed from Boko Haram captivity this year.

The extremists distributed a new video on Twitter on Sunday purporting to show attacks on Nigerian army barracks in the states of Borno and Yobe. The video also shows the beheading of a man in military fatigues said to be a Nigerian soldier.

According to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, an unidentified fighter, shown in the video with looted army weapons and ammunition, says the footage shows Nigeria's military has not forced Boko Haram from its positions and got them hemmed into the Sambisa Forest, as the military has claimed.

Some of those rescued last week said they had been held by Boko Haram for up to one year in villages just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Maiduguri.

Boko Haram has been carrying out a bloody campaign of terrorism in its quest to turn Nigeria into a hard-line Islamic state.

Boko Haram began its insurgency in Nigeria in 2009 and since then has killed thousands of Nigerians in shootings and bombings. The Nigerian government responded with a state of emergency in three northern states where Boko Haram is most active, but that action has failed to halt attacks.

Cameroon, along with Chad and Niger deployed troops earlier this year to fight Boko Haram after the militants launched a series of cross-border attacks. Last month those countries joined Nigeria and Benin in announcing a new regional task force headquartered in Chad's capital N'Djamena to counter the militants.

Some material for this report came from the Associated Press.