Nigeria army: More than 800 Boko Haram hostages rescued

Army says “clearance operation” in the northeast also saw troops kill 25 fighters and capture one alive.

People inspect a damaged mosque following a suicide bomb explosion in Maiduguri
File photo: Some 20,000 people have been killed and about 2.3 million displaced since Boko Haram started its violent campaign in 2009 [AP]

Nigerian troops have freed more than 800 people held hostage by Boko Haram across the country’s northeast, the army said.

The “clearance operation” on Tuesday saw 520 people rescued in Kusumma village, three Boko Haram fighters killed and one fighter from the group captured alive, according to spokesman Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman. 

In a statement posted to the army’s official website on Thursday, he said that 309 others were rescued in 11 villages across the region.

At least 22 “terrorists” were said to have been killed in the operation in which 309 were rescued.

Boko Haram has not commented on the statement.

“The gallant troops cleared the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists hibernating in Kala Balge general area,” Usman said. Kala Balge is a local government area of Borno State.

READ MORE: ‘Nigeria has the measure of Boko Haram’

In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed said that the army had significantly reduced Boko Haram’s ability to carry out big attacks.

“The Boko Haram insurgency has been massively decimated to the extent that it is no longer in the position to carry out spectacular attacks,” he said.

Earlier in March, two female bombers killed at least 22 worshippers in an attack on a mosque. The attack took place on the outskirts of the northeastern city of Maiduguri – the birthplace of the Boko Haram armed group.

The group was suspected of having carried out the attack, according to Colonel Usman.

Boko Haram has increasingly used suicide and bomb attacks as Nigeria’s military pushes the group out of territories they once controlled. Several bombers have blown themselves up in recent months at roadblocks into the city manned by the military and vigilantes.

The US military calls Boko Haram the most violent armed group in the world.

Some 20,000 people have been killed and about 2.3 million displaced by its war with the government since 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera