Hundreds Of Hostages Freed From Boko Haram By Cameroonian And Nigerian Forces
The militaries of Cameroon and Nigeria have freed hundreds of hostages held by Boko Haram, including dozens of girls and women either forcefully married or held as sex slaves.
The captives were freed after raids on the town of Achigachia, which straddles Cameroon and Nigeria.
In 2013, Nigeria reported that Boko Haram had stepped up kidnappings of young women to sell them into sexual slavery or force them to marry its fighters. The tactics attracted international outrage, but efforts to prevent more kidnappings or rescue the young girls were not successful.
The hundreds of schoolchildren kidnapped from a Nigerian school in Chibok have not been found.
The practice spread to Cameroon in 2014 when the military announced a number of young girls on its border with Nigeria had been taken for marriage by Boko Haram fighters.
Lieutenant Colonel Felix Tetcha, one of Cameroon’s senior military officers fighting the insurgency, said Boko Haram again engaged in the practice after its ability to fight was weakened by military raids on the militants’ strongholds that began in December. He said Boko Haram now prefers to psychologically torment the population.
Cameroon said it was handing over the rescued girls and women to specialized U.N. agencies for psychological care.
The United Nations says Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than 2.5 million.