The Nigerian military has confirmed that they successfully freed nearly 300 women and girls in an offensive yesterday against the Boko Haram stronghold in the Sambisa Forest, but none of the 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago appear to be among the rescued.
The Associated Press (AP) is reporting that the Nigerian army is still in the process of screening and interviewing the abducted girls and women who were freed yesterday, none of whom appear to be the girls who were abducted from a school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok last April.
Pogu Bitrus, a community leader in Chibok, said parents of the Chibok girls were desperate to get word about their captured daughters after learning of the rescue via social media.
“We are trying to verify if there are Chibok girls among them. We are working hard to verify. … All we know is this number have been rescued,” Bitrus told the AP.
The rescue came as a result of a multinational offensive against Boko Haram that began in the end of January and has driven the Islamic terrorist group from all major towns in the northeast. Nigerian forces are now concentrating on the group’s stronghold in the Sambisa Forest, a national game reserve, where the terrorists are known to have taken scores of women and girls who have been captured from neighboring towns.
A military source told the AP that some of the women rescued on Tuesday fought back, having been used by the terrorists as human shields and who forced them to fight. The Nigerian army was able to subdue them, and later learned that the group was using some of the women as suicide bombers as well.
A counterinsurgency spokesman named Mike Omeri said the military believed that the Chibok girls might still be held in the Sambisa Forest although unconfirmed reports say the girls were broken up into smaller groups and forced to convert to Islam. Some were reportedly “married” off to their captors. Other witnesses say they saw the girls being shipped across Lake Chad and taken into neighboring Cameroon.
A Muslim leader involved in an attempt to negotiate a release told the AP three of the girls were known to have died from snakebite, dysentery and malaria.
Sadly, Boko Haram’s retreat from the northeastern portion of Nigeria resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people who were killed by the terrorists as they fled. A local government committee confirmed that they had buried hundreds of skeletons of men, women and children who had been slaughtered in Damasak, a town on the Niger border.
“I know that there was a large-scale atrocity, but I cannot tell you the precise number of dead bodies,” Senator-elect Abubakar Kyari told reporters in Maiduguri, capital of Nigeria’s hard-hit Borno State.
Last November, Boko Haram’s defeat was predicted by Our Lord in an apparition to Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of the Diocese of Maiduguri when He handed the bishop a sword that turned into a Rosary. Jesus then told him three times, “Boko Haram is gone”, meaning the Rosary would be the sword that defeats the murderous group that has killed thousands of people in the last few years.
The Bishop has been traveling his diocese, located in Borno State, the hardest hit region in Nigeria, encouraging the faithful to renew their devotion to this powerful prayer. And as word of the apparition spread, Catholics from all around the world are offering a daily Rosary for the defeat of Boko Haram.
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