Nigerian troops have rescued about 160 more hostages from Boko Haram’s Sambisa Forest stronghold in northeast Nigeria, the country’s army said today.
“We are still trying to compute the actual number of those rescued. But tentatively there are about 60 women of various ages and around 100 children,” said army spokesman Sani Usman.
Usman said one woman was killed in the fighting and eight other rescued hostages were injured. A soldier was also killed and four others wounded.
The latest rescue comes after the military said on Tuesday it had found 200 girls and 93 women kidnapped by the militants and held in the forest.
Usman has said the former hostages did not include the 219 girls snatched from their school on April 14 last year but Nigeria’s defence headquarters said it was too early to tell.
The mass kidnapping from Chibok, in Borno state, prompted global outrage and forced President Goodluck Jonathan to accept international help in the search operation for the missing girls.
The former hostages from the latest rescue and those freed on Tuesday have been taken out of the Sambisa Forest area, where it was thought that the Chibok girls were initially taken.
They were being screened to determine their identities, as well as when and where they were kidnapped.
Mass kidnapping of women and young girls, as well as the forced conscription of men and young boys, have been a feature of the brutal six-year Boko Haram insurgency.
Amnesty International said earlier this month that more than 2,000 women and girls have been abducted since the beginning of last year and subject to forced labour, sexual and psychological abuse.
Former hostages have also described being forced to fight on the front line alongside Boko Haram fighters.
A military source indicated that the women in this week’s rescues were used as human shields against the military operations, in some cases firing back at soldiers.
Usman said in a statement issued late yesterday that troops from the army’s 7th Division cleared several “terrorist training camps” during the operation and seized equipment and vehicles.