Some 63 of the 68 women seized by Boko Haram militants in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria last month have escaped captivity and returned home, security sources revealed on July 6, 2014.
Thisday newspaper said the women, who emerged in large numbers on Saturday, July 5, 2014, must have taken advantage of the relaxed security in the hideouts where they were held hostage to flee. It is believed that raids by the insurgents on military and security facilities in Damboa on Friday, July 4, 2014, presented the women with the opportunity to escape. The military said it killed over 50 assailants in the attacks.
Some of the residents of the villages from where the women were abducted said the returnees, who looked unkempt, made their way home over the weekend. A top security source in Borno State, who wished to remain anonymous, revealed that half of the women have already been reunited with their families. Others who were found wandering in the bush near Adamawa State are now in the custody of soldiers in Gulak town, he added.
A total of 68 women were abducted by insurgents from Kummabza village in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State two weeks ago. The abductions were however denied by the Federal Government at the time, while Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, ordered an inquiry. Two weeks later, no report was submitted and no more mention was made of the incident, Thisday said.
Boko Haram triggered an international outcry when it captured 200 secondary school girls in Chibok town of Borno State on April 14, 2014. It is asking for the release of its fighters and their relatives in exchange for the girls, but the government has rejected the demand. Last week, three women were arrested for recruiting female members for the militant group, the military said. They were said to have targeted widows and young girls, promising them marriage to Boko Haram members.
A state of emergency is in force in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States because of the group's increasingly violent campaign to overthrow the government and create an Islamic State. Founded in 2002, Boko Haram launched military operations in 2009. It was declared a terrorist group by the US in 2013. Its attacks have so far affected some three million people.