Earlier this year, the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, ordered a fresh investigation into the circumstances that led to the kidnapping of about 200 schoolchildren in the north-eastern town of Chibok.
In April 2014, Boko Haram militants stormed the town in Borno State and kidnapped the girls from a school. This sparked international outrage, with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls going viral around the world.
Human rights activists who have been documenting the carnage caused by Boko Haram, said that the militants had been abducting women long before the Chibok abduction. Activists urged the government to look beyond the Chibok girls, and increase efforts to free all the women abducted by the militants.
Thankfully, it seems the government has followed the advice given by activists. The country’s military has been adequately resourced. The troops are now giving Boko Haram no breathing space. In the north-east, the militants have been pushed out of villages and towns they used to control.
In February, many of the Chibok girls were freed by the military. On March 24, the military announced during a news conference that more than 800 additional women had been freed by the army.
According to army spokesman, Sani Usman, the special operation—which freed over 800 women—was carried out in Borno State. The military first freed about 520 hostages in the village of Kusumma, after fiercely fighting the militants. The militants gave up and fled, after recording some casualties.
The second operation was carried out in some 11 villages. The military freed a total of 309 hostages from the militants. Mr Usman said 22 militants were killed in the two operations, and one was captured alive.
“The gallant troops cleared the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists hibernating in Kala Balge general area,” spokesman Usman told reporters at the news conference.
Mr Usman also added that the army recovered items such as arms, axes and a motorcycle. Boko Haram fighters are skilled motorcyclists, and have been using them to raid villages since they began their insurgency.
Boko Haram is a jihadist movement seeking to establish an Islamic State in Nigeria. The group’s objective is to overthrow the Nigerian government, which it claims is too Western-friendly and does not honor Islam. The group has pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The group was founded in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of the north-eastern state of Borno. However, the group became very radical, bombing and engaging the Nigerian military in direct combat in 2009.
Human rights groups estimate that Boko Haram has killed some 20,000 people, and displaced around 2.3 million vulnerable people from their homes.
Currently, a regional force involving troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin is ready to deploy and completely neutralize the militants.
The Nigerian military, backed by local vigilante groups, have pushed Boko Haram deep into the forest. The militants now have resorted to guerrilla warfare with the military.
During his campaign for the presidency, President Buhari promised to eliminate the militants if elected. Political commentators say this campaign message contributed significantly to his victory over the then incumbent candidate, Goodluck Jonathan.
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