More than 60 women and girls who had been abducted by Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram have reportedly escaped to freedom, after their captors left for a raid. The Islamist group is still holding more than 200 schoolgirls it abducted in April.
The women were abducted two weeks ago in northeast Nigeria. Of the 68 who were taken, it seems that 63 made it to safety over the weekend.
From Dakar, NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports for our Newscast unit:
“Reports say the girls and women managed to get away when their militant abductors took off to attack a military base near Damboa, in Nigeria’s troubled northeastern Borno state.
“A local vigilante group member trying to protect civilians told journalists he had received an alert that the former captives had made it back home. Relatives have confirmed that they are indeed safe. Insecurity is rife in this restive part of Nigeria, making it difficult to confirm such reports.
“Boko Haram sparked international outrage after the mass kidnap of students at their school in Chibok in April. The group is demanding the release of its fighters in exchange for the girls, in a deal rejected by Nigeria’s government.”
Details of the abduction and escape have been difficult to ascertain — it seems that some of the women might have escaped their captors soon after they were taken, and others were able to escape recently. We’ll update this post with new information as it comes in.