The Nigerian military freed 241 women and children and captured 43 suspected fighters, in raids associated with Operation Lafiya Dole, an effort to clear out the area of Banki, near the Cameroon border. The women and children are being examined to determine if they were all Boko Haram militants. It is assumed that at least some of those rescued are actually family members of Boko Haram militants.
During the raid, the Nigerian military was able to capture Bulama Modu. Modu was considered to be acting as the “Emir” or kingpin of the village of Bulakari. Troops also confiscated weapons, including some that had been buried by militants before abandoning their posts. Besides arms, ammunitions, bows, and arrows, the military also captured Modu’s horse.
Boko Haram has used Banki for cross border attacks in the past. This is the biggest hostage rescue since May, when the Nigerian army raided the Sambisa forest, freeing 700 captives. In the Sambisa operation, when Boko Haram became aware of the military approaching, they began to stone their captives, and killing others with land mines and armored cars. It is estimated that Boko Haram has captured 2,000 women and children since January 2014. Boko Haram’s goal remains to establish the Islamic State in the region.
In July, Cameroon expelled nearly 2,500 Nigerians who were living in country for safety. Most of the Nigerians had fled from Cameroon in order to take refuge from the atrocities of Boko Haram. The removal of the Nigerians took place in an attempt to prevent suicide attacks by Boko Haram jihadists who were operating in and among the refugee population. Authorities in Cameroon went as far as preventing women from wearing full face veils, worried that suicide bombers could use the bulky traditional Islamic garb to conceal weapons or explosives.
It is still unknown if any of those freed in the Banki Operation are the female students kidnapped from the village of Chibok in April 2014. Lt. Gen Tukur Burtai believes that the girls are located within the Banki area and says the Nigerian army remains committed to rescuing them. The Nigerian government has recently said that they are willing to negotiate with the terrorists for the release of the girls. It is feared that some of the girls may have been sold to other militant groups.
Boko Haram militants have repeatedly carried out deadly attacks on civilians and militia in Nigeria and other Western and Central African countries. The group is known for kidnapping civilians, especially women and children. They then indoctrinate their captives and force them to participate in terror attacks.
Nigeria stands as the leading force in fighting Boko Haram, with 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin. Boko Haram recently released an audio clip stating that the forces fighting against them have not been successful, but Nigeria has slammed this as propaganda.