Tales Of Horror: Women Freed From Sambisa Forest Narrates Ordeal In Boko Haram Captivity
“We just have to give praise to God that we are alive, those of us who have survived,” another survivor Lami Musa, 27, said as she cuddled her five-day-old baby girl.
According to her, “Boko Haram came and told us they were moving out and said that we should run away with them. But we said no. Then they started stoning us. I held my baby to my stomach and doubled over to protect her.”
She and another survivor of the stoning, Salamatu Bulama, said several girls and women were killed, but they do not know exactly how many. 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, died of an illness she said was aggravated by malnutrition two months ago.
“What will I tell my husband?” she sobbed when she learnt from other survivors using borrowed cell phone that her husband was alive and in Kaduna.
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.
Another freed captive, Cecilia Abel, said her husband and first son had been killed in her presence before the militia forced her and her remaining eight children into the forest.
For two weeks before the military arrived she had barely eaten.
“We were fed only ground dry maize in the afternoons. It was not good for human consumption,” she said. “Many of us that were captured died in Sambisa Forest. Even after our rescue about 10 died on our way to this place.”
Amnesty International estimates the insurgents, who are intent on bringing West Africa under Islamist rule, have taken more than 2,000 women and girls captive since the start of 2014. Many have been used as cooks, sex slaves or human shields.
The prisoners freed so far do not appear to include any of more than 200 schoolgirls snatched from school dormitories in Chibok town a year ago, an incident that drew global attention to the six-year-old insurgency.
Umaru said her group of prisoners never came in contact with the missing Chibok girls.