A group of nearly 300 women and girls, which the Nigerian army says were freed from Boko Haram militants earlier this week have been taken to a refugee camp in north-eastern Nigeriam, reports BBC. They had travelled for three days from the vast Sambisa forest where they were rescued, according to the army.
The group arrived in trucks and jeeps at a school converted into the camp in the city of Yola. Earlier, the military said another 234 women and children had been rescued. It said that operation took place on Thursday in the forest, a militant hideout. Reports suggest nearly 700 women have been rescued from Boko Haram over the past week as the army continues its operation against militant strongholds.
But it is still not clear if any of the more than 200 girls abducted from a school in Chibok in April 2014 were among those freed. The case caused international outrage and triggered a major campaign to get the Nigerian government to work for their release.
The military said the freed hostages were being screened to establish their identities. Some analysts are sceptical of the army’s claims – querying the the use of the term “rescue”, says BBC Africa Editor Richard Hamilton. They say the women were probably picked up by the military after the militants had fled.
While the army says the latest group freed were Boko Haram captives, a local senator says the women and children previously released may have been residents of the area. The military earlier said it had destroyed 13 camps belonging to the Islamist insurgents in the Sambisa forest, which surrounds a reserve in Borno.
Thousands have been killed in northern Nigeria since Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009 to create an Islamic state. In February, Nigeria’s military, backed by troops from neighbouring countries, launched a major offensive against the Islamist fighters, recapturing Boko Haram territory taken in the previous year.