Nearly 300 women and girls rescued in Nigeria, but Chibok girls still missing

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One of many earlier protests calling for the rescue of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram at Chibok, Nigeria, in 2014.

Originally published by International Christian Concern

The Nigerian military has rescued nearly 300 girls and women who were captives of Islamic terror group Boko Haram (BH), but one military official said that they are not the missing schoolgirls from Chibok.

“The troops rescued 200 abducted girls (not Chibok girls) and 93 women,” Colonel Sani Usman said.

Soldiers stumbled upon the group of females during a raid against one of the last strongholds of BH in the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, northern Nigeria.

The operation took place just 60 miles away from Chibok, where on April 14, 2014, BH fighters kidnapped 276 mostly Christian teenaged school girls and subsequently threatened to sell them into sexual slavery as brides to BH militants. Though dozens of the girls from Chibok have since escaped the clutches of BH, 219 still remain captive.

Hope continues to fade with each day that passes and each town that is liberated without the Chibok girls turning up. Many worry that they have either been killed already or sold into slavery and, as a result, won’t be rescued.

BH has reportedly kidnapped more than 2,000 women over the last 18 months. Over the last several years, the group has terrorized northern Nigeria, ransacking towns and targeting Christians in their quest to establish an Islamic state in Africa. Their barbarism is extreme, forcing Christians at gunpoint to convert to Islam or die, while also carrying out suicide attacks, burning churches, stealing sons, daughters, wives, sisters and brothers, often subjecting them to sexual violence.

While military forces seemingly close in on BH leader Abubakar Shekau, more dead bodies are being uncovered, leaving the world to wonder if the Chibok girls are among those numbers. On April 28, reports suggested that nearly 400 decomposing bodies were discovered in the town of Damasak.

“They were all thrown in the river, and now the river has dried up,” said a local government official.

“We were mobilized by the state authorities to bury them and we did it accordingly. The bodies include those of women and children as well as agile men,” one Damasak resident added.

Nigerian forces liberated Damasak one month earlier where a pile of approximately 100 corpses was found under a bridge with their throats slit. The bodies have yet to be identified, but initially, officials feared that the Chibok girls might be included among those dead.

The past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for the parents of the Chibok girls, heartbroken by the news. Within a week of the kidnapping in 2014, the Nigerian military said the majority of the girls had been rescued, which proved to be untrue. Today, every report of dead bodies found or girls liberated builds stress upon hope dashed that they will ever be reunited with their daughters.

International Christian Concern’s (ICC) Regional Manager of Africa Troy Augustine says, “Today, ICC celebrates the rescue of these women and girls from Sambisa Forest. At the same time, we urge everyone to continue to pray for all of those who remain missing in the hands of BH insurgents. The kinds of persecution and torture that these victims must be facing on a daily basis is unimaginable. But as long as they are still alive, hope remains for the Chibok girls and countless others BH has abducted to also one day again taste freedom.”

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