The Nigerian military on Tuesday announced a win in the fight against extremist terrorist group Boko Haram, saying they freed more than 300 kidnapping victims in raids against the group’s camps.
Most of those rescued were women and children. It is unknown if any of the young women are victims of the highly publicized kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls from a secondary school last April. The mass kidnapping sparked the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
At least 30 Boko Haram members were killed in the raids.
Also on Tuesday, Nigerian troops, acting on a tip, ambushed and killed four suspected Boko Haram terrorists allegedly on a suicide bombing mission to Adamawa state. Those soldiers recovered two AK-47 rifles, some unexploded bombs, mortar devices and cash, according to the army statement.
“We shall continue to decisively deal with Boko Haram terrorists until they are defeated,” it read, asking that residents cooperate with the military and security agencies.
This wasn’t the first successful operation the Nigerians have conducted against Boko Haram that freed hostages. In September the Nigerian military rescued 241 women and children in a raid on two camps controlled by Boko Haram, the military reported. That mission unfolded in the villages of Jangurori and Bulatori.
In the past, the Nigerian government was said to have rescued large groups of victims from Boko Haram’s grasp, though it’s been difficult to verify the claims. According to the New York Times, many are skeptical of Nigeria’s military, who for years have been battling the looting, killings, and bombings of the terrorist group.
Several experts on Nigeria and Boko Haram were skeptical about the military’s assertions on Wednesday, saying the announcement could be part of a propaganda war, or mere fiction offered as a morale lift for citizens worn down by the devastating tactics of the militants. On Tuesday night, for example, Boko Haram was accused of looting and burning a village in southeastern Niger near the Nigerian border, killing 14 people, according to Reuters.
“The trust issue comes from a legacy of poor communication from the armed forces over Boko Haram activity,” said Elizabeth Donnelly, assistant head of the Africa program for Chatham House, an independent policy research group in London, and an expert on Boko Haram.
Dozens of Boko Haram members were also said to have been arrested in the latest raid.