Keep Up With Face2Face Africa On Facebook!
On Monday, Face2Face Africa reported on Chadian and Nigerien forces recovering Damasak over the weekend:
After being overtaken by militants since December, Damasak, which is a trading town about 120 miles from Borno state capital Maiduguri near Niger’s border, was reportedly reclaimed by Chadian and Nigerien forces on Saturday.
Damasak is the 11th town that has been recovered by the efforts of the Multinational Joint Taskforce since March 1st.
Residents of the town, though, are now telling authorities that as Boko Haram fled from military forces, they also took with them hundreds of school boys that they had forced in to Islamic school and hundreds more of women and children.
Damasak businessman Malam Ali, whose brother is among those missing, told the BBC Hausa Service on Tuesday that young boys had been put in a madrassa, or Islamic school, by Boko Haram when they took over the town at the end of last year.
Following the recapture of the town, those boys, numbering about 500, had not been accounted for, he said, while Reuters news agency quoted residents as saying more than 400 women and children had been abducted.
And while Government Spokesman Mike Omeri has quickly rejected the 500-number figure given out by residents, he did not deny that there were boys missing.
As for the missing women and children, Omeri explained that while some of them were released once military forces arrived, Boko Haram held on to the females “they had married in the period of occupation.”
During combat, forces had to reportedly engage in “full military intervention” in order to force the release of the women and children since the militants were using them as “protection.”
With the government still unable to secure the release of the nearly 300 girls who were kidnapped last April, the future of these newly kidnapped boys appears bleak.
Boko Haram leader Abubaker Shekau has long maintained that the missing students of Chibok were married off.