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Hundreds of hostages, mostly children and women, were rescued from Boko Haram extremists in northeastern Nigeria’s Sambisa Forest. The hostages, totaling 350, including 209 children, 135 women, and six men, were found in worn-out clothes. Boko Haram’s insurgency has claimed 35,000 lives and displaced 2.1 million people since 2009. The hostages, who had been held captive for months or years, were rescued during a dayslong military operation in the forest. Some of the women rescued had babies believed to have been born from forced marriages. One hostage, Hajara Umara, had seven children and spoke of the challenges faced in trying to escape due to her children’s presence.

The hostages were handed over to authorities in Borno state, where the Sambisa Forest is located. The forest serves as a hideout for the extremist group, from where they carry out attacks targeting civilians and security forces both in Nigeria and neighboring countries. Some extremists were killed during the rescue operation, and their makeshift houses were destroyed. The rescued hostages, who appeared exhausted and traumatized, were transported in trucks to the Borno state government house, where they will be cared for until they can return home.

Boko Haram, a homegrown jihadi group, has been waging an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009 with the aim of establishing Islamic Shariah law in the country. The group has been responsible for the deaths of at least 35,000 people and the displacement of 2.1 million individuals. In recent years, the group has focused on abductions, with at least 1,400 students taken from Nigerian schools since the 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok village in Borno state. Abductions by Boko Haram have been concentrated in conflict-battered regions in Nigeria, where armed groups frequently target villagers and travelers for ransom.

The rescued hostages, mostly women and children, were found in poor condition with worn-out clothes and signs of trauma from their time in captivity. The rescue operation in Sambisa Forest was a successful military effort that resulted in the freeing of 350 hostages from Boko Haram extremists. The operation included the destruction of makeshift houses used by the extremists in the forest. The hostages were taken to the Borno state government house, where they will receive care and support until they can return to their homes.

The rescue of the hostages in Sambisa Forest highlights the ongoing threat posed by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries. The extremist group has continued to carry out attacks and abductions despite efforts by security forces to combat their activities. The rescue operation was a significant step in the fight against Boko Haram and in providing support to the victims of the group’s brutal tactics. The rescued hostages will require continued care and assistance as they recover from their ordeal and rebuild their lives after months or years of captivity.

The rescue of the hostages in northeastern Nigeria sheds light on the ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram’s insurgency. The group’s violence has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions of people, with women and children bearing the brunt of the violence. The rescue operation in Sambisa Forest is a reminder of the resilience and bravery of those affected by the conflict, as well as the importance of continued efforts to bring an end to the violence and support those impacted by the extremist group’s actions.

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