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Cameroon's Military Says It Has Freed 900 Hostages From Boko Haram

Cameroonian soldiers stand guard at a lookout post on Feb. 25 as they take part in operations against the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram in northern Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria.
Edwin Kindzeka Moki

Cameroon's military says it has killed more than 100 members of Boko Haram and freed more than 900 people who had been held hostage by the militant Islamists.

The news, which is difficult to independently verify, came in a statement from Cameroon's defense minister, Joseph Beti Assomo.

"The statement says during the sweep last week, from Nov. 26 to 28, Cameroonian troops also ... recovered a large stock of weaponry and black and white Islamic State flags," NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton tells our Newscast unit. "Few details were forthcoming about those reportedly freed."

The military gains reportedly came during a special cleanup operation in Cameroon's north, near the border with Nigeria, Ofeibea says. The militant group is based in Nigeria, and Cameroon has been working to prevent incursions across that border.

Cameroonian troops are also part of a regional force — 8,700 strong, according to Reuters, with troops from Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin — trying to defeat Boko Haram.

It's unclear whether last week's reported success was the result of a coordinated strike, according to Reuters.

"Cameroon's army spokesman said its forces acted with the backing of the regional task force, which became operational in August but has yet to launch joint raids," the wire service reports. "However, an army officer in Nigeria, which is leading the force, denied knowledge of the operation."

It's also not clear whether any of the 200 schoolgirls seized last year in Nigeria were among the freed hostages, Reuters notes.

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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