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Nigerian Army Releases 42 Boko Haram Suspects

Azare, Nigeria

The Nigerian army has released 42 suspected members of Boko Haram after they were cleared of involvement in the militant group's activities.

The group of 42 men, which includes three foreign nationals from Chad, Cameroon and Burkina Faso, had been arrested during military raids over the past three years.

Army officials turned them over Tuesday to Borno state governor Kashim Shettima Tuesday at the state capital.

VOA reporter Abdeulkareem Haruma said some of the freed suspects appeared to be mentally unbalanced and unable to respond to questions from government officials or journalists. He said three of them were said to be seriously ill.

Amnesty International called on the Nigerian government to investigate dire conditions in prisons holding Boko Haram suspects. The rights group said hundreds of detainees had died in custody from shootings, beatings, suffocation, starvation and injuries from overcrowding.

Rights groups have previously accused Nigeria of heavy-handed tactics in its fight against Boko Haram.

An army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman, said each of the freed suspects had been given a payment of about $580 to help ease their transition back into society.

Shettima told reporters the state government would also help the freed suspects reintegrate.