Three Chadians - a doctor, a nurse and their driver - kidnapped ten months ago near Lake Chad by the jihadist group Boko Haram, were released on Friday, local authorities announced. The Bagassola district chief medical officer, his assistant and their driver were kidnapped on October 30 in the east and appeared in a Boko Haram video four months later. It was the first time that the jihadist group, originally from Nigeria and which is rife in the four countries bordering the lake - Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad - took hostages working for the State and medical personnel.
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The three hostages "were released today by Boko Haram," the governor of Lake Chad province Abadi Sahir told AFP by telephone on Friday evening. “The three hostages have been released,” a senior security service official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Neither of these sources wished to specify the conditions of this release. Boko Haram has multiplied for a year deadly attacks and kidnappings of villagers in the Lake Chad basin, a vast expanse of water and swamps strewn with islets haunts of jihadists.
The Boko Haram insurgency, which began in 2009 in northeast Nigeria, and its crackdown by the army, have left some 35,000 dead and nearly 2 million displaced in the country in ten years, according to the UN. The jihadist group then extended its attacks to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. On Friday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced that more than 360,000 Chadians had moved to the lake area, due to attacks by jihadists but also floods that have raged in recent months in the region.
After the death, on March 23, of a hundred Chadian soldiers in an attack by these Muslim extremists, Chad launched a vast offensive in the province of Lac. President Idriss Déby Itno then claimed that the army had rid the national territory of jihadists. But he then recognized, on August 9, that "Boko Haram would still do a lot of damage" in Chad.