Boko Haram unrest: Cameroon 'frees German hostage'

Robert Nitsch Eberhard, a German citizen abducted and held hostage by suspected Boko Haram militants, is seen as he arrives at the Yaounde Nsimalen International airport after his release in Yaounde, Cameroon, Wednesday 21 January 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption Robert Nitsch Eberhard said he had spent long hours in the dark

Cameroon says its military has freed a German hostage kidnapped in Nigeria by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Robert Nitsch Eberhard, a teacher, was abducted in July 2014 in Nigeria's Adamawa State by the group, Cameroon's government said.

He was freed in a "special operation of the Cameroon armed forces and security services of friendly countries".

Boko Haram has seized control of towns and villages in north-east Nigeria and launched raids into Cameroon.

It is not clear which countries contributed to the operation to free Mr Robert.

'Happy to be alive'

The former hostage arrived in Yaounde in the company of Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, a senior official in the presidency, the BBC's Randy Joe Sa'ah reports from Cameroon's capital.

They were received at the airport by several ministers and the German ambassador.

Officials would not say how he was released, except to mention their gratitude to the military, our reporter says.

Boko Haram at a glance

Image copyright AFP
  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria - also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Abducted hundreds, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Controls several north-eastern towns
  • Launched attacks on Cameroon

Who are Boko Haram?

Why Nigeria has not defeated Boko Haram

The freed man said he was pleased to be alive and safe and had spent long hours in the dark, unable to move because of death threats.

"I am happy to see all these people who rescued me and made sure I survived," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.

Germany's Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told the AP news agency that a crisis team had been working on the case for months and thanked the Cameroon government for its "very good and trusting" co-operation.

Boko Haram has recently launched several attacks on Cameroon.

Suspected Boko Haram militants were believed to have kidnapped dozens of people in a cross-border raid near Mokolo city in Cameroon's Far North region on Sunday.

Some were later freed as Cameroon's forces pursued the attackers who were fleeing back to Nigeria.

Previous kidnappings in Cameroon blamed on Boko Haram have been more targeted - with high-profile people or foreigners reportedly taken for ransom.

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