They lived a month hostage.

Five Chadian, Senegalese, Franco-Ivorian and Cameroonian employees of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have been released in Nigeria.

They had been kidnapped by armed men in northern Cameroon where jihadists are rampant.

Their kidnapping took place on the night of February 24 to 25 in Fotokol, Cameroon, near the Nigerian border, a region where the jihadist groups Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (Iswap) regularly attack civilians and military.

The ex-hostages were "taken to a safe place", said the NGO in an email sent to AFP on Thursday, without revealing the circumstances of their release.

The “robbery gone wrong” hypothesis

“We are happy to find our colleagues safe and sound,” reacted Stephen Cornish, the director general of MSF.

The ex-hostages, a Franco-Ivorian, a Senegalese and a Chadian as well as two Cameroonian security guards, had been abducted by armed men who entered the MSF home.

“There is nothing to link this act to the attacks of Boko Haram.

We don't know if it was a simple theft gone wrong.

A safe has been opened,” a Cameroonian local government official, who requested anonymity, told AFP at the time of the kidnapping.

Marshlands

The Cameroonian authorities indiscriminately call the group of the same name from Nigeria Boko Haram or its dissident branch of Iswap, which has pledged allegiance to IS.

The town of Fotokol is near Lake Chad, a vast expanse of water and swamps that extends its shores into four countries: Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria.

Boko Haram and Iswap have set up their hideouts in some of the countless islets that dot the lake.

Jihadists regularly carry out attacks against soldiers and civilians in the four countries in this area.

They have multiplied in recent months, with armed groups taking advantage of their knowledge of this marshy terrain.

Iswap has consolidated its grip on these territories in recent months in the region after the death of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, in fighting between the two rival groups.

3 million displaced

The Boko Haram insurgency emerged in 2009 in Nigeria before spreading to neighboring countries.

Since then, more than 36,000 people (mainly in Nigeria) have been killed, and 3 million have had to flee their homes, according to the UN.

Iswap, for its part, emerged in 2016 from a split in Boko Haram, which it blames in particular for the murder of Muslim civilians.

In September 2019, six Cameroonian soldiers were killed near Fotokol after the attack on a military post by Boko Haram.

In August 2021, at least 26 Chadian soldiers were killed in the Lake Chad region, near the border with Cameroon, by jihadists.

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  • World

  • Cameroon

  • Nigeria

  • MSF

  • Boko Haram

  • Jihadism

  • Hostage

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