Survivors of Boko Haram captivity have revealed how the militant group’s fighters stoned some of their captives to death as the military approached to rescue the victims in Sambisa Forest.
Quoting survivors, Associated Press reported that several women also died when they were crushed mistakenly by a Nigerian military armoured vehicle. Three, it reported, were blown up by a landmine, as they were walking to freedom.
These tragic stories came from girls and women brought to a refugee camp, the news agency reported, and the victims are still finding it hard to believe they are safe.
“We just have to give praise to God that we are alive, those of us who have survived”, said Lami Musa, 27, as she cradled her five-day-old baby girl.
She is among 275 children, girls and women, who were getting medical care and being registered yesterday on their first day out of Boko Haram’s war zone.
Musa was in the first group to be transported by road over three days to the safety of Malkohi refugee camp, a dust-blown deserted school set among baobab trees on the outskirts of Yola, the capital of Adamawa State.
She had just given birth to her yet-to-be-named baby last week when the crackle of gunfire hinted rescuers might be nearby.
“Boko Haram came and told us they were moving out and said that we should run away with them. But we said no”, she explained from a bed in the camp clinic.
“Then they started stoning us. I held my baby to my stomach and doubled over to protect her”, she added.
Another survivor of the stoning, Salamatu Bulama, said several girls and women were killed, but they do not know exactly how many.
The survivors stated that the horrors did not end as the military arrived, as a group of women hiding in the bush were run over by an armored personnel carrier, whose operator did not see them.
“I think those killed there were about 10”, said Bulama.
Other women died from stray bullets, she said, naming three she knew.
Bulama shielded her face with her veil and cried when she thought about another death in the camp: her only son, a toddler of two who died of an illness she said was aggravated by malnutrition two months ago.
“What will I tell my husband?” she sobbed
On her part, Musa said her husband, the father of the new baby, was killed by Boko Haram when they abducted her from her village of Lassa in December. She doesn’t know the fate of their three other children.
At the camp, Associated Press reported, 21 girls and women with bullet wounds and fractured limbs were taken to the city hospital after they arrived on Saturday evening. Officials yesterday were collating details of the rescued 61 women and 214 children, almost all girls.
Health workers put critically malnourished babies on intravenous drips, babies whose rib cages and shoulder blades protruded like skeletons were given packs of therapeutic food to suck from.