Five Boko Haram commanders were released in exchange for the 82 Chibok girls...
The insurgents also shot dead nine fishermen in a village near the shores of Lake Chad in northeastern Nigeria, amid heightened violence region-wide since Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's was sworn in in May. More than 800 people have been killed in just two months in a surge of Boko Haram attacks, which began after Buhari took office on a pledge to defeat the militants.
"We are still working to verify the actual number of the rescued hostages, but I can say they include around 60 women and 100 children," said army spokesman Sani Usman. A female hostage and a soldier were killed during the rescue operation at Sambisa Forest, a base for the Islamist extremists. Troops are moving into other parts of the forest and have destroyed nine militant camps, the spokesman said. "Many of those kidnapped have undergone psychological trauma and indoctrination," he said.This is huge, for a variety of reasons.
A military source who was in Sambisa told The Associated Press that some of the women rescued Tuesday fought back, and that Boko Haram was using armed women as human shields, putting them as their first line of defense. The Nigerian troops managed to subdue them and rounded them all up, and some said they were forced to fight for Boko Haram, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Boko Haram also has used girls and women as suicide bombers, sending them into crowded market places and elsewhere. A month ago the Nigerian military began pounding the Sambisa Forest in air raids, an assault they said earlier they had been avoiding for fear of killing the Chibok schoolgirls, or inciting their captors to kill them.
In Chibok, dozens of family members and supporters marked the anniversary by gathering at the remains of the school, in front of a burned out and roofless classroom. Young girls held handwritten signs demanding "Bring back our girls — Now and Alive." One mother, Mariam Abubakar, told the crowd she was in disbelief that the government had been unable to rescue the girls during a whole year.
As the scale of this weekend's electoral landslide became clear, President Goodluck Jonathan called Buhari on Tuesday to concede defeat to the opposition leader, Buhari's camp said, an unprecedented step that should help to defuse anger among Jonathan's supporters. In the religiously mixed northern city of Kaduna, where 800 people were killed in violence after the last elections in 2011, Buhari supporters streamed onto the streets, waving flags, dancing and singing in celebration.
An Associated Press photographer in the northeastern town said it was largely deserted of civilians. Four people, including an old man, came onto the street to wave at a convoy among 2,000 troops from Niger and Chad in the town. There were still signs of the town's occupation by the rebels. Their writings were scrawled on every wall and the groups' black and white flag still flew above some buildings. A group of Chadian troops transferred weapons confiscated from Boko Haram into a pick-up truck truck. They were then taken to helicopters for transport to Niger. The weapons included AK47 assault rifles and 50-calibre guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar shells.Boko Haram killed 10,000 people last year, and now the UN has finally come forward with a plan for a resolution to endorse actions taken by the governments of Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Benin to further roll back the influence of Boko Haram. Using Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, the resolution would endorse military action for a period of 12 months to take "all necessary measures" against Boko Haram. It also asks for the establishment of a trust fund to help finance the military operation. Of course, there are disagreements:
Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - The leader of Nigeria's Boko Haram militants, Abubakar Shekau, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group in an audio recording released Saturday. "We announce our allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims, Ibrahim ibn Awad ibn Ibrahim al-Husseini al-Qurashi," said the voice on the message, which was believed to be that of Shekau and was released through Boko Haram's Twitter account. Qurashi is better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the IS group which has proclaimed a caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq. Shekau spoke in Arabic, but the message contained French and English subtitles. It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the message. Shekau was not pictured, a contrast from most of Boko Haram's past messages in which the Islamist leader has been shown, often in close up shots. But Shekau did identify himself in the recording, which was accompanied by the subtitles and a graphic including an image of a radio microphone. There have in recent months been signs of closer ties between the Nigerian militants and the IS group, with both using similar ways of communicating with the outside world. Boko Haram has notably begun releasing videos that resemble those made by IS. Boko Haram has been waging a six-year uprising against the Nigerian state, which has claimed more than 13,000 lives. Analysts have long debated the extent of Boko Haram's ties to other jihadist groups, but the evidence was never clear.
In Maiduguri, troops blocked roads into the city, which also prevented civilians from escaping. "Coordinated air and land operations are being conducted now," Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade posted on Twitter. He said the 12-hour curfew in place in Maiduguri for more than a year is extended to 24 hours. "We believe hundreds of thousands of civilians are now at grave risk," Amnesty International said. More than 200 combatants have been killed, mainly insurgents, according to soldiers and civilian self-defense fighters who counted bodies. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to reporters.Although forces in Maiduguri were able to fight back the wave of insurgents, the army at Monguno, just north of Maiduguri, was overwhelmed and Boko Haram was able to seize control of the city.
In Niger, the government has declared a "humanitarian crisis" and appealed for international aid to help tens of thousands of Nigerian refugees driven from their homes by the insurgency. These recent events show how neighboring countries are increasingly being drawn into Nigeria's Islamic uprising. Thousands of people have been killed in Nigeria's 5-year insurgency and some 1.6 million people driven from their homes. "We are concerned about the increasing regionalization of Boko Haram," said Comfort Ero, Africa director for the International Crisis Group. On Sunday, Cameroon's army announced it had broken up a Boko Haram training camp in the Mayo-Danay district in the country's Far North region. The army was looking for other hideouts in the area, said Jean-Pierre Mbida, a soldier with the Rapid Intervention Battalion tasked with fighting the insurgents. "We will continue monitoring the area in the hope of uncovering any other Boko Haram hideouts and training grounds," he added.Boko Haram is pulling fighters from Niger, Chad, and Cameroon into Nigeria, and has also managed to gain control of previously free areas in Niger. The general territory Boko Haram runs in is poor, and largely ignored by the government, making it easy for them to implement their alternative-authority structure over an even less-than-willing population.
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