97 Nigerian women and children rescued
LAGOS — A second “Chibok girl” rescued by Nigeria’s military in a forest battle with Islamic extremists was kidnapped from her home village and is not among 218 students missing from the 2014 mass abduction by Boko Haram that sparked worldwide outrage.
The girl is one of three daughters of a pastor of the Nigerian branch of the American-based Church of the Brethren, kidnapped by Boko Haram in two separate attacks, community leader Pogu Bitrus told The Associated Press. It’s an indication of how widespread and ubiquitous are the Islamic extremists’ tactic of kidnapping girls and young women used as sex slaves and boys and young men forced to join their fight to create an Islamic caliphate.
Army spokesman Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman said soldiers freed the girl after a Thursday night battle in the northeastern Sambisa Forest in which it liberated 97 women and children and killed 35 extremists. He claimed she was among missing girls abducted more than two years ago from a boarding school in Chibok.
Bitrus said the girl, believed to be about 15 when she was seized, was a student at the same school but was home on vacation at the time of the mass kidnapping. She was later snatched from her village of Madagali, near the town of Chibok, he said, but did not know when exactly.
The first Chibok teenager to escape, along with her four-month-old baby, was discovered by hunters wandering on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest on Tuesday. On Thursday, Amina Ali Nkeki, 19, was flown to Abuja to meet with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.
Parents of the kidnapped girls, the Bring Back Our Girls movement and aid workers all have criticized the Nigerian government and military for their handling of the development, with Refugees International charging her escape is being politicized and that she should not be paraded in public but getting urgent medical care for sexual abuse and psychosocial counseling.
Ali has revealed that a few of the girls died in captivity but most remain under heavy guard in the forest, according to family doctor Idriss Danladi. The AP does not identify suspected victims of sexual assault but named Ali after she appeared on TV alongside the president.
Ali’s escape has renewed hopes of saving the other girls and strengthened demands of the Bring Back Our Girls movement that the government act in concert with the international community to swiftly free them. Friday is their 767th day in captivity.