Nige­ria tries to ID nearly 300 res­cued women, girls

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY OLA AWONIYI AND AMINU ABUBAKAR

Nige­ria was on Wed­nes­day seek­ing to iden­tify nearly 300 women and girls res­cued from Boko Haram, rais­ing hopes they may in­clude school­girls seized in a high-pro­file kid­nap­ping last year.

The army ap­peared to rule out any of the 200 girls be­ing from the north­east­ern town of Chi­bok, who were snatched from their dor­mi­to­ries on April 14, prompt­ing global out­rage.

But the coun­try’s de­fence spokesman urged cau­tion, say­ing it was too early to tell and all those re­leased from camps in the mil­i­tants’ Sam­bisa For­est strong­hold were still be­ing screened.

Chi­bok el­ders re­acted an­grily to the lat­est an­nounce­ment, which comes af­ter the mil­i­tary pre­vi­ously said some of the girls had been re­leased, only to back­track, and that it knew where they were.

“It is dis­heart­en­ing for our hopes to be dashed,” said Enoch Mark, whose daugh­ter and niece are among the 219 teenagers still be­ing held by the Is­lamists.

Pogo Bitrus, whose four nieces are hostages, added: “We have never lost hope as a peo­ple but the is­sue is, if the mil­i­tary has the ca­pac­ity (to res­cue hostages) now, why didnt they do it be­fore?

De­fence spokesman Chris Oluko­lade an­nounced on Tues­day evening that troops res­cued 200 girls and 93 women from the for­mer colo­nial-era game re- serve in north­east­ern Borno state.

He was ini­tially cau­tious, say­ing it was “not yet con­firmed” if the Chi­bok girls were among those re­leased.

On Wed­nes­day, he warned that it was “not safe or wise” to say the teenagers were not among the group. “You never can say. One or two could be among them.”

But army spokesman Sani Us­man was more cat­e­goric, stat­ing: “From our pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions, the res­cued girls are not those ab­ducted from Chi­bok in April last year.”

De­tails of the res­cue came as Nige­rian troops fought to flush out Boko Haram from its last re­main­ing ter­ri­tory af­ter a four-na­tion of­fen­sive against the group in the restive north­east.

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