15 Nigerian women and children escape Boko Haram captivity

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LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) – Six women and nine children kidnapped by Nigerian rebels Boko Haram in the northeast of the country have escaped after months of captivity, according to a Borno state official.

The 15 former hostages met the governor of Borno, Babagana Zulum, in the state capital, Maiduguri.

“Today is one of our happiest times for us to see these young girls and women abducted by the insurgents,” Zulum said on Monday, attributing their freedom to “prayers and ongoing reconciliation and reintegration programs. “in Borno State.

The governor said he hoped for “absolute peace” that would end the 10-year-old extremist insurgency in which thousands of people died and many more were kidnapped.

The 15 women and children were abducted in two separate incidents in October 2020 and in May this year when extremists attacked their villages in Borno and Adamawa states, both hard hit by extremist violence, Zuwaira Gambo , the Commissioner for Women’s Affairs. in Borno state said.

The women and children walked for six days in Buni Yadi forest until they were discovered by security forces and taken to safety in Borno state, Gambo said.

Boko Haram and its affiliate, the Islamic State of West Africa province, have targeted women and children in attacks in northeastern Nigeria. More than 1,000 children have been kidnapped since 2013, according to the United Nations development agency. This includes the 2014 kidnapping of 276 girls from a school in Chibok, which sparked international outrage. More than 100 of Chibok’s girls are still missing.

“Abducted women have been victims of violence and abuse and used as spies, fighters and suicide bombers,” UNDP said in a 2020 report. welcome in their communities and those returning from captivity or involvement in armed groups do not have access to training, counseling and reintegration programs that target men, ”the report said.

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