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African Troops Free Boko Haram Hostages, Arrest Militant Fighters

Julia A. Seymour | Monday, December 7, 2015

African Troops Free Boko Haram Hostages, Arrest Militant Fighters

Troops killed and arrested hundreds of Boko Haram fighters in an offensive in Cameroon late last month.

Soldiers from Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, and Benin swept an area of Northern Cameroon and Nigeria where the Islamic extremists had strongholds, a Cameroonian official announced Dec. 3. During the offensive, which lasted between Nov. 27 and 29, the forces killed more than 100 Boko Haram fighters, arrested another 100, and freed 900 hostages.

Boko Haram, which has terrorized Nigeria and its neighbors for six years, held hostages from Cameroon, Nigeria, and Chad in several camps where they were training them as suicide bombers, fighters, and thieves, Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said.

International Christian Concern considered the rescue of so many victims “cause to praise the Lord.”

“It also causes us to be reminded of the 219 Chibok girls,” said Troy Augustine, ICC regional manager for Africa. “They are still gone.” Some family members of those girls are still grieving so severely their health and even their ability to provide for themselves suffers, Augustine noted. The captives from Chibok were Christians, many of whom likely were forced to convert to Islam and marry their captors.

Military offensives against the Sunni Muslim jihadists forced them to change tactics this year.

The group used to specifically target Christians for persecution. When it had control of a large area of Nigeria, Boko Haram also fought more traditionally, but the coordinated efforts to drive them out led to the adoption of “guerrilla tactics,” Augustine said. The group has now started using young girls as suicide bombers, targeting public markets, and attacking civilians indiscriminately.

One Boko Haram suicide bomber attacked a Shia Muslim procession in a village outside Kano, Nigeria, killing at least 21 people, on Nov. 27, according to The Independent. A week earlier, two suicide bombings killed 11 in Kano.

In June, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari told the military to defeat Boko Haram by December, but government officials backed off that deadline last month, warning it “may be unrealistic.”

“The timeline on when to stop the insurgents from activating sleeper cells and detonating bombs into soft targets in any part of the country, especially in the front-line states, is therefore not tenable,” said Air Commodore Yusuf Anas of the Center for Crisis Communication.

Just days after the Cameroon offensive, The Wall Street Journal reported on Boko Haram’s expansion into Niger, Cameroon, and Chad, leaving villages abandoned and destroyed.

“From early this year, what we have seen is the Boko Haram insurgency turning from merely a domestic national problem in Nigeria into what has truly become a significant international challenge,” said French army Col. Cyril Mathias.

The U.S. State Department condemned Boko Haram’s attacks in the Lake Chad Basin region on Dec. 3.

“We remain committed to this effort through a number of security and counterterrorism assistance programs, including providing advisors, intelligence, training, logistical support, and equipment to the governments of Chad, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Benin to aid their fight against Boko Haram,” officials said in a State Department press release.

Courtesy: WORLD News Service

Publication date: December 7, 2015

African Troops Free Boko Haram Hostages, Arrest Militant Fighters