ABUJA, Nigeria (CBSNewYork)– More than 800 people who were being held hostage by terrorist group Boko Haram were freed by Nigerian troops Tuesday, the army said.
More than 300 others were rescued in 11 villages in the region, according to the army. It’s reported that at least 22 terrorists were killed during those operations.
Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed recently told Al Jazeera that Boko Haram’s ability to carry out large attacks has been significantly challenged by the army.
“The Boko Haram insurgency has been massively decimated to the extent that it is no longer in the position to carry out spectacular attacks,” he said.
In November, Boko Haram was named as the world’s most deadly extremist group in the Global Terrorism Index. Deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 317 percent in 2014 to 6,644 compared to 6,073 blamed on the Islamic State group. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to IS in March and calls itself that group’s West Africa Province.
President Barack Obama notified Congress in October that the administration planned on deploying 300 troops to Cameroon to conduct intelligence and surveillance as “part of the counter Boko Haram effort,” as reported by The Guardian.
Critics long have blamed corruption for the military’s failures, asking how the insurgents can be better armed than Nigerian soldiers despite an annual defense budget of more than $5 billion, supplemented last year by a loan of $1 billion.