Nigeria’s Boko Haram militant group kidnapped 100 people earlier this month but most were freed by security forces from neighboring Chad, a Nigerian security official and a local self-defense member said Friday.
The abductions took place on Aug. 10 in Doron Baga in the Kukawa area near the border with Chad, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
He said the terrorists were stopped as they crossed the Chad border by Chadian soldiers who killed most of them and set free most of the captives.
Muhammed Gava, a member of the anti-Boko Haram vigilante movement, said 20 females and about 70 young men had been forced to board speed boats in Lake Chad, which lies on the border between Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
Nigeria’s fight against the extremist group began in 2009 but hit the international spotlight in mid-April, when the militants kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls. The girls have still not been freed.
Boko Haram wants to enforce an Islamic state in Nigeria, whose population of more than 170 million people is almost evenly divided between a mainly Muslim north and largely Christian south.
The group has intensified its violent campaign this year and is increasingly targeting civilians. More than 4,000 people — mostly civilians — have been killed this year alone by all sides in the conflict, which include Nigerian security forces, Amnesty International said on Aug. 5. This compares to an estimated 3,600 people killed in the first four years of the Islamic insurgency.
While the group’s attacks are mostly in northeast Nigeria, Boko Haram has detonated bombs as far away as Lagos, the commercial capital in Nigeria’s southwest.