More than 60 woman and children have reportedly been restored to their communities after escaping captivity under radical Islamic insurgency, Boko Haram. A follow-up to its mass-abduction of more than 240 school girls from Chibok village in April, Boko Haram abducted 90 more villagers on June 22. An estimated 30 school boys abducted alongside the 63 women and children have since been forced to fight alongside their militant captors.
07/07/2014 Nigeria (The Guardian) – Sixty-three women and children snatched by Boko Haram militants last month have escaped after walking dozens of miles to safety.
The group of women, teenaged-girls and toddlers were abducted on 22 June when the Islamists swept across three remote villages in Borno state, Boko Haram’s north-eastern base. Thirty-one boys abducted alongside them were forced to become fighters as Boko Haram stepped up its bloody four-year campaign to re-establish a caliphate in religiously mixed Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
The women escaped on Friday and walked for almost 24 hours before authorities were alerted on Sunday. At least 50 militants were killed over the weekend after attempting to storm military and police bases while troops were patrolled surrounding villages, the army said.
Nigeria’s government initially denied the mass abduction – the latest in a series that only came under the spotlight when more than 300 schoolgirls were abducted from Chibok in April. Almost 220 of those seized at the school in Borno are among several hundred people still missing after being abducted by Islamist militants.
“The women were locked in a compound when the Boko Haram went to do another operation,” said Alhaji Sule, a member of one of the semi-official vigilante groups that have formed in the state capital, Maiduguri, and elsewhere because of attacks by the Islamist militants.
Around dusk, the militants warned the women not to escape or they would be hunted down, Sule said. But when their captors failed to return after several hours, the women broke open the door and escaped.
“They walked about 50km [31 miles]. When a person is running for their lives they can do this journey in one day,” he said.
A government official said about half of those who escaped were able to reach their homes. The others were found wandering in the bush “weak and dazed”. Many were now receiving medical treatment, the official added.