YOLA, Nigeria – Even with the crackle of gunfire signaling rescuers were near, the horrors did not end: Boko Haram fighters stoned captives to death, some girls and women were crushed by an armored car and three died when a land mine exploded as they walked to freedom.
Through tears, smiles and eyes filled with pain, the survivors of months in the hands of the Islamic extremists told their tragic stories to The Associated Press on Sunday, their first day out of the war zone.
“We just have to give praise to God that we are alive, those of us who have survived,” said 27-year-old Lami Musa as she cradled her 5-day-old baby girl.
She was among 275 girls, women and their young children, many bewildered and traumatized, who were getting medical care and being registered a day after making it to safety.
Nigeria’s military said it has freed nearly 700 Boko Haram captives in the past week. It is still unclear if any of them were among the so-called “Chibok girls,” whose mass abduction from their school a year ago sparked outrage worldwide and a campaign for their freedom under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.