Friday 9 December 2016

Brainwashed Boko Haram captives shot at rescuers

Michelle Faul in Lagos

Published 30/04/2015 | 02:30

Former members of insurgent group Boko Haram gather in front of Chadian soldiers in Ngouboua, Chad, April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Moumine Ngarmbassa
Former members of insurgent group Boko Haram gather in front of Chadian soldiers in Ngouboua, Chad, April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Moumine Ngarmbassa
Former members of insurgent group Boko Haram gather in front of Chadian soldiers in Ngouboua, Chad, April 22, 2015. Picture taken April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Moumine Ngarmbassa
A Chadian soldier embraces a former child soldier of insurgent group Boko Haram in Ngouboua, Chad, April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Moumine Ngarmbassa

Some of the nearly 300 girls and women freed by Nigeria's military from the forest stronghold of Boko Haram were so transformed by their captivity that they opened fire on their rescuers.

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An army spokesman said troops rescued the women and girls while destroying four Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa Forest.

Boko Haram used some of the women as armed human shields, a first line of defence who opened fire as the troops approached, according to an intelligence officer and a soldier who were in Sambisa during the rescue. The soldiers managed to subdue the women and round them up, said the men.

The military was flying in medical and intelligence teams to evaluate the former captives, many of whom were severely traumatised, said army spokesman Col Sani Usman.

He said earlier that none of the schoolgirls kidnapped from the northeastern town of Chibok a year ago initially appeared to be among the 200 girls and 93 women rescued on Tuesday, but further screening was needed to make sure.

"The processing is continuing, it involves a lot of things because most of them are traumatised and you have got to put them in a psychological frame of mind to extract information from them," Usman said.

A counsellor who has treated other women freed from Boko Haram captivity said some had become indoctrinated into believing the group's Islamic extremist ideology, while others had established strong emotional attachments to militants they had been forced to marry.

Some of the about 90 women and girls freed by the army four months ago, for example, had upset their community on their return by maintaining that the militants were good people who had treated them well, said the counsellor.

"The trauma suffered by the (abducted) women and girls is truly horrific," said Amnesty International's Africa director for research and advocacy, Netsanet Belay. "Some have been repeatedly raped, sold into sexual slavery or indoctrinated and even forced to fight for Boko Haram."

No one knows how many captives are in the hands of the Islamic extremists, who have carried out a campaign of killings and kidnappings that has seen thousands of girls, women and young men seized. Amnesty International said at least 2,000 women and girls have been taken by Boko Haram since the start of 2014.

Irish Independent

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