Sixty-three of the hostages most recently captured by Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram escaped during a fight near an army base in Damboa, Nigeria, last Friday. These captives were part of the 68 women and girls who were taken during a 4-day siege in Kummabza, according to Damien Sharkov of Newsweek.
Five of the 68 women are still believed to be in captivity among more than 200 girls being held hostage after being taken from their school in Chibok in mid-April.
President Goodluck Jonathan has yet to fulfill his promise to free the captive girls. The government has ruled out using military operations to rescue the hostages and refuses to agree to Boko Haram’s offer of exchanging the hostages for release of their fighters.
The Islamist group’s recent tactics of targeting women, young girls and widows in particular, have become of grave concern to the Nigerian government. A state of emergency has been declared in the north of the country as a result, although the international attention the kidnappings have attracted may have played into the militants hands.
Despite critiques that Jonathan isn’t doing enough to rescue the hostages, he is working hard to bring them to safety but will not reveal details of the recovery operation that could potentially put the girls lives at risk, reports a spokesman for Jonathan, Reuben Abati, to the Washington Post.
According to a self-confessed member Boko Haram, the girls are in a good state of health. He claims to have joined the group in 2004 and reports the girls are being treated well and live in “a state of amnesty”, reports Channels Television.
“I’m telling you this for a fact. They are in a state of amnesty. They don’t have a problem; some of them believe in Islam, some say they would not convert to Islam. We treat them equally. They are all healthy … Some of them say they will not return to Islam. We tell them this is not a problem. There is no force in Islam. If you see them now, you’ll see that they don’t have any problems.”
He also adds that Boko Haram does not kill children and women intentionally, as that would go against the word of Islam.
Boko Haram was established to oppose Western Influence in Nigeria. In 2013, it was declared a terrorist group due to itsviolent tactics. Most recently, 53 insurgents and six officers died during the attack that allowed the women to escape.
The group is also responsible for a series of bombings in Nigerian cities, resulting in 21 deaths at a busy shopping center last month.
Boko Haram says it seeks to establish an Islamic state in place of the current Nigerian government, in effect to end the “Westernization” of the country.