Chibok kidnapping survivor found two years after Boko Haram attack
The young woman, now pregnant, is the first to be found after the extremist group took 219 schoolgirls hostage in April 2014.
LAGOS, NIGERIA — Nigerian soldiers have found one of the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram from Chibok, making her the first freed from the Islamic extremists since the mass kidnapping more than two years ago. Her uncle describes her as pregnant and traumatized but otherwise fine.
Amina Ali Nkeki is the first of the 219 Chibok girls to escape from her captors since their abduction grabbed worldwide attention more than two years ago.
She was found wandering in the forest, uncle Yakubu Nkeki told The Associated Press. He said the 19-year-old – she was 17 when she was abducted – was brought to Chibok Tuesday night for her identity to be verified and to be reunited with her mother. Her father died while she was held captive, he said.
He said the soldiers then took the young woman away, apparently to a military camp in the town of Damboa.
Other Chibok girls may also have been rescued by soldiers hunting down Boko Haram in the remote northeastern Sambisa Forest on Tuesday night, said Chibok community leader Pogu Bitrus. He said he is working with officials to establish their identities.
Boko Haram Islamic extremists stormed and firebombed the Government Girls Secondary School at Chibok on April 14, 2014, and seized 276 girls who were preparing to write science exams. Dozens escaped in the first hours, but 219 remained missing.
The inability of Nigeria's government and military to rescue them led, in part, to the electoral defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan last year.
It's not known how many thousands of girls, boys and young women have been kidnapped by Boko Haram in a nearly 7-year-old insurgency that has killed some 20,000 people and spread across Nigeria's borders.
Nigeria's military has reported freeing thousands this year as they have forced the extremists from towns and into strongholds in the sprawling Sambisa Forest. Boko Haram has turned to soft targets using suicide bombers.
In April, the group released a so-called proof of life video, which was demanded by officials trying to secure the Chibok girls' release.
"After two years of unfulfilled government promises of their imminent rescue, the new video has been met with cautious expectations," as The Christian Science Monitor reported at the time:
One expert pointed to a number of hurdles that influence that caution, including the Nigerian government's shortcomings, Western biases about Africa, and the world’s short attention span.
"I don't want people to only be interested in the Chibok girls every April. I think that there are 11 months a year that we need to be equally worried and concerned about getting the girls back to their families, safe," says Mia Bloom a professor of communication at Georgia State University who's written extensively on Boko Haram and their exploitation of women and girls.