Edmonton Journal

Nigerian military evacuates females rescued from Boko Haram group

- MICHELLE FAUL

LAGOS, NIGERIA — Following the mass rescue of 200 girls and 93 women from the forest stronghold of Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, Nigeria’s military is evacuating them and plans to evaluate their physical and mental health, an army spokesman said Wednesday.

The military is flying in medical and psychiatri­c teams to examine the kidnap victims, many of whom are traumatize­d, Col. Sani Usman said.

He had earlier said that none of the so-called Chibok girls appeared to be among those rescued, but later said it remains to be seen if any were among the 219 who are still missing more than a year after being snatched from a boarding school in Chibok. The April 14, 2014 mass kidnapping from the town in northeast Nigeria outraged much of the world, sparking the #saveourgir­ls campaign.

The evacuation of the girls and women from the Sambisa Forest in northeast Nigeria began on Tuesday, but Usman would not say where the rescued females are being taken. He told The Associated Press that they needed to be questioned to determine their identities. “The processing is continuing; it involves a lot of things because most of them are traumatize­d and you have got to put them in a psychologi­cal frame of mind to extract informatio­n from them,” Usman said.

While the Chibok kidnapping made Boko Haram known to much of the world, it was far from the only such incident. Amnesty Internatio­nal said this month that at least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since the start of 2014 and many have been forced into sexual slavery and trained to fight.

Of the women and girls who were rescued in recent days, an intelligen­ce officer and a soldier said Boko Haram used some of them as armed human shields, a first line of defence that fired at troops. But the soldiers managed to subdue them and round them up, said the two men who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the issue is sensitive.

Usman said military operations continue in the forest where the women and girls were rescued while troops destroyed four Boko Haram camps.

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