News ID: 123836
Published: 0327 GMT August 03, 2015

Nigerian army 'frees nearly 180 Boko Haram hostages'

Nigerian army 'frees nearly 180 Boko Haram hostages'

Nigeria's army claimed to have freed nearly 180 hostages – including more than 100 children – held by Boko Haram terrorists in a dramatic weekend rescue.

The operation in the country's conflict-torn northeast also led to the capture of a Boko Haram commander, an army spokesman said in a statement late Sunday, AFP reported.

The military said earlier that it had killed a "large number" of the terrorists in airstrikes in the northeast. The operation took place on Sunday near Aulari, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) south of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, once a terrorist stronghold.

"During the offensive operations, 178 people held captive by the terrorists were rescued," military spokesman Colonel Tukur Gusau said, without specifying when the rescue took place. "They include 101 children, 67 women and 10 men."

The Nigerian military has announced the release of hundreds of people held by Boko Haram in recent months, especially in the notorious Sambisa forest, a longtime terrorist stronghold.

The airstrikes hit the village of Bita on the fringes of the forest not far from the Cameroonian border, where Boko Haram was preparing to launch an offensive, the military said.

Boko Haram has increasingly expanded its operations into neighboring countries in recent months, prompting Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger to launch a coordinated military fightback.

The four countries, along with Benin, are preparing to launch a new 8,700-strong force that officials say will go into action soon. Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou on Sunday vowed that the new regional force would "eradicate" the terrorists.



"The multinational joint force will eradicate... the blind terrorism of Boko Haram," Issoufou said in a televised speech.

The terrorist group has stepped up its attacks since Nigeria's new President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May, unleashing a wave of violence that has claimed 800 lives in just two months.


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