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Nigerian authorities release 350 hostages kidnapped by Boko Haram

Abuja, May 21 (Prensa Latina) Nigerian authorities announced the release of 350 people, hostages of the Islamist group Boko Haram, in Borno, in the northeast of the country, as a result of a military operation, it was announced here today.

Among the hostages were more than 200 children, and the rescue operation took place for more than a week in the Sambisa forest, considered one of the strongholds of the Islamists.

Official sources said that most of those rescued had been held by Boko Haram for months or even years, and the group consisted of 209 children, 135 women and six men, all of whom were exhausted and wearing worn-out clothes.

The freed hostages were trucked to the Borno state government house, where authorities would care for them until they returned home.

Nigeria’s armed forces recently rescued more than 130 students abducted from a school in Kaduna state in the northwest of the country.

Mass abductions, particularly of female minors and government officials for whose release they demand cash ransoms, are a major source of revenue for Islamist groups and criminal gangs operating in the vast West African country.

These attacks by Islamist and criminal groups against unarmed population and kidnappings are the two main headaches for the Nigerian central authorities, in addition to the frequent conflicts between herders and farmers over the use of water and areas for their activities.