Troops from Niger have freed 11 villagers, four of them children, who had been seized by Boko Haram extremists and taken across the border into Nigeria.
“The hostages were freed by our troops on the Nigerian side of Lake Chad, near a Boko Haram base,” said Yahaya Godi, secretary of the Diffa region governorate in southeast Niger.
“There are 11 people, including three women and four children, two of them babies, who were seized by the Boko Haram terrorist group.”
The abductions took place August 11 and 12, 2020, in two villages in Gueskerou, a district on the Niger side of Lake Chad. Forces liberated the hostages less than a week later.
The marshy shoreline of the lake, shared by Chad, Niger and Nigeria, has become a hunting ground for cross-border extremists, who attack remote communities and often carry out kidnappings for ransom.
According to Niger’s state TV, the troops tracked the kidnappers and freed the hostages just as their families were about to pay a ransom of 2 million CFA francs ($3,600). The television station showed guns and ammunition recovered from the abductors. “The Army has delivered a heavy blow to the enemy,” said Godi, who welcomed the hostages after their ordeal.
Niger faces extremist attacks in the west from groups in Mali and Burkina Faso and in the southeast by Boko Haram and a splinter group called Islamic State West Africa Province.
The Diffa region alone hosts about 300,000 people who have fled their homes, according to the United Nations.