On January 1, Deputy Director of Public Relations of the Nigerian Army Colonel Timothy Antigha announced that 700 civilians including women and children escaped from the Lake Chad that’s controlled by the ISIS-affiliated group Boko Haram. According to Col. Antigha, the civilians were received by the Nigerian Army’s 242 Battalion in Monguno town in northeastern Nigeria.
“Over 700 former Boko Haram abductees, comprising adult males, females and children have been received by troops of 242 Battalion in Monguno. Profiling of the displaced persons is on- going to ensure that no terrorist takes advantage of the situation to sneak into the town,” Col. Antigha said in an official statement.
Col Antigha said that farmers and fishermen who were forced to work in Boko Haram farms in several islands in Lake Chad were among the hostages and attributed the escape of the hostages to a military operation conducted by the Nigerian Army few days earlier.
Nigeria has been fighting Boko Haram since the terrorist group was founded in 2002. Later the group came to the spotlight when its fighters kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok on April 14, 2014.
On March 7, 2015, Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS via an audio message. Later, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appointed Abu-Musab al-Barnawi as the new leader of the group in early August 2016. However, Shekau refused to accept al-Barnawi’s appointment as leader and vowed to fight him while stating that he was still loyal to ISIS. These events led to a split and an internal conflict within the terrorist group.
Boko Haram is currently active in northeastern Nigeria. However, the activity of the terrorist group decreased over the last two years thanks to a series of military operations conducted by the Nigerian Army.