More than 60 women and girls abducted by the Boko Haram Islamist militant group in Nigeria have managed to escape, according to reports.
An official with a Borno state vigilante group said the group took a chance to flee when the insurgents went to attack soldiers and police officers in Bamboa on Friday night and Saturday morning.
“I have just received an alert from my colleagues in Damboa area that about 63 of the abducted women and girls had made it back home. They took the bold step when their abductors moved out to carry out an operation”, the official, Abbas Gava, said according to Nigeria’s Premium Times.
“We don’t have the details of their escape yet, but we believe God gave them the opportunity at the time the insurgents came in their large numbers to attack Damboa where about 12 soldiers, five policemen, over 50 Boko Haram members and unspecified number of civilians were killed yesterday (Saturday).”
In pictures: Nigeria kidnapped schoolgirls
In pictures: Nigeria kidnapped schoolgirls
A total of 276 girls were abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok, in Borno state, which has a sizeable Christian community. Some 223 are still missing
One of the kidnapped girls looks into a camera
One of the missing girls talking to the camera
The missing Nigerian schoolgirls, wearing the full-length hijab and praying in an undisclosed rural location. Boko Haram alleging they had converted them to Islam
Girls wearing the full-length hijab holding a flag reading "There is no god, but Allah" and "Mohammed is Allah's prophet"
A man claiming to be the leader of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau
Abubakar Shekau speaks on the video
Girls, wearing the full-length hijab and praying are filmed by an unidentified man (R) in an undisclosed rural location
People carry signs as they attend a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok in Lagos
A protester demonstrates against the kidnapping of school girls in Nigeria, outside the Nigerian Embassy in London
Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour and Prime Minister David Cameron appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme
People participate in a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign demonstration and candlelight vigil in Los Angeles
Girls holding heart shaped banners in a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign demonstration and candlelight vigil in Los Angeles
14/19 South Africa
South Africans protest in solidarity against the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram and what protesters said was the failure of the Nigerian government and international community to rescue them, during a march to the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg
Karilyn Coates (10) joins others in a candlelight vigil for the more than 300 girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria, at All Souls Unitarian Church in Colorado Springs
Mothers of the missing Chibok school girls abducted by Boko Haram Islamists gather to receive informations from officials. Nigeria's president said that Boko Haram's mass abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls would mark a turning point in the battle against the Islamists, as world powers joined the search to rescue the hostages
Former Nigerian Education Minister and Vice-President of the World Bank's Africa division (3rd L) Obiageli Ezekwesilieze speaks as she leads a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom in Abuja
18/19 Bring Back Our Girls
Kelly Hoppen tweeted: 'Please make sure you do this, we must stand together and not forget them'
19/19 Bring Back Our Girls
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He added that it was thought five women and two girls were still being held by the group.
A security officer told the Nigerian Bulletin that there was “no doubt” about the report.
“I guess it was during the time the gunmen were attacking Damboa; left behind just some few men to watch over the women, but the women took advantage of an opportunity when the guys were dozing off, and bolted away but quietly,” he said.
Video: Who are Boko Haram?
Kidnap and ransom is a major source of income for Boko Haram. In April, there was global outrage when a group of nearly 300 schoolgirls were taken from Chibok, also in Borno state. About 220 of those girls are still being held.
That sparked the international Bring Back Our Girls campaign with a number of prominent people, including US First Lady, Michelle Obama, joining in.