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German Boko Haram Hostage Freed as Video Claims Responsibility for Baga Massacre

An operation led by Cameroonian armed forces won Nitsch Eberhard Robert's release while a purported Boko Haram video answered for an attack in Borno State that killed anywhere between 150 to 2,000 people.
January 21, 2015, 7:44pm

Cameroon announced on Wednesday that its military had secured the release of a German teacher who was kidnapped by Boko Haram six months ago. This followed the liberation of at least 24 hostages captured by the Islamic terror group over the weekend.

A government statement said that Nitsch Eberhard Robert was freed by a "special operation led by Cameroonian armed forces along with security services of friendly nations." It did not specify the countries that had assisted the operation.

Robert was flown to the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde, where he was welcomed by ministers and the German ambassador.

Boko Haram hostages freed as Chad sends troops to fight militants in Cameroon. Read more here.

The development came as a man professing to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a video on YouTube claiming responsibility for the attack on the town of Baga in Borno State, which resulted in fatalities estimated to be anywhere between 150 to 2,000.

"We are the ones that carried out the attack, and it is just the tip of the iceberg," the man says in the footage, which surfaced on Tuesday, according to a translation by the Nigerian Daily Post. "There are more coming. We killed the people of Baga as our Lord instructed us."

He remarks that the weapons the group collected from a nearby multinational army base that it had seized were "enough to annihilate Nigeria, not to mention Cameroon."

In anticipation of Nigeria's general election next month, the man in the video also threatened current Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, presidential candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

"Jonathan, you are in trouble," he says. "And Buhari, do you think he is a true Muslim? He's an infidel."

Gruesome reports emerge of new Boko Haram massacre in northern Nigeria. Read more here.

The video has been removed from YouTube.

Residents who managed to escape the carnage in Baga described scenes of death and devastation. Some escapees describedstepping on dead bodies that littered the town's streets as they fled, while others spoke of militants waiting in trees to ambush those who ran.

"Boko Haram is a threat not only to Nigeria and the region, but also to the continent as a whole," African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in a statement on Tuesday. "The situation calls for renewed collective African efforts."

Officials from Nigeria and neighboring countries have been meeting in Niamey, Niger, to discuss how best to tackle the militant group. This week Chad sent troops into Cameroon along with a convoy of 400 armored vehicles and several combat helicopters. Cameroonian Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary referred to this assistance as "concrete proof of the solidarity, of the perfect harmony between two heads of state whose people are friends, and who are economically interdependent."

"It's like being blind and deaf": We spoke to some of the Nigerians displaced by Boko Haram. Read more here.

Chris Ngwodo, a political analyst based in the central Nigerian city of Jos, told VICE News that these ongoing discussions are crucial in determining what will happen next.

"The concern is that if the Nigerian military fails to adequately combat this terrorist group, Cameroon might feel compelled to go into Nigerian territory and combat this group, which has of course threatened to carry out attacks in Cameroon as well," he said. "So we could have a situation where northeastern Nigeria begins to resemble eastern Congo, where you have military interventions by neighboring countries Uganda and Rwanda."

Ngwodo said that a lot depends on regional coordination and the Nigerian government's willingness to engage the terrorists, noting that "distrust" remains despite Nigeria's openness to joint military efforts. After all, the Multinational Joint Task Force that had been based in Baga quickly collapsed during Boko Haram's assault.

Meanwhile, Nigerian elections are scheduled for February 14, and security is expected to be a major issue.

Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: @sallyhayd