Nigerian soldiers rescued a total of 71 people, mostly women and children, held captive by the militant group Boko Haram in northeastern Borno state, the military said Thursday. Some were held hostage for about a year, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The security forces reportedly rescued 59 people on Thursday and another 12 on Wednesday from villages about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Borno's largest city Maiduguri, where the Islamic extremist group has its origins.
"As part of efforts to rid Nigeria of Boko Haram terrorists, troops of 21 Brigade and elements of Nigerian army engineers yesterday cleared a notorious terrorists camp at Chuogori and Shantumari, Borno State," Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, acting director of army public relations, said, according to Nigerian Bulletin, a local news network.
Yagana Kyari, one of the rescued hostages, told the AP: “I was waiting for death ... they often threatened to kill us." Kyari reportedly said she was kidnapped from Kawuri village in Borno and taken to a militant camp in Walimberi village, southeast of Maiduguri.
The news of the latest rescue operation comes after the militant group abducted 276 schoolgirls from Chibok village in Borno last April, drawing international condemnation.
According to the Nigerian military, hundreds of hostages were rescued in March this year after it was announced that all the towns held by Boko Haram were seized. However, militant attacks in the country’s villages have not ceased.