Nigerian army claims 293 girls and women rescued from Boko Haram

The Nigerian army says the Chibok girls are not among those rescued

Roisin O'Connor@Roisin_OConnor
Wednesday 29 April 2015 11:55
Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s President-elect (AFP)
Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s President-elect (AFP)

The Nigerian army says it has rescued 200 girls and 93 women from Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa forest.

It was hoped that the Chibok girls, who were kidnapped by Boko Haram almost exactly a year ago, had been found but the Nigerian military said they are not among those rescued.

The rescue occurred during a mission to wrestle back control of the Sambisa forest from Boko Haram.

Army spokesman Col. Sani Usman said troops destroyed and cleared four militant camps and rescued 200 abducted girls and 93 women "but they are not the Chibok girls".

It was added that Nigerian troops had also destroyed three camps run by the militants.

The girls and women will be screened on 29 April to determine whether they had been abducted or if they were married to the militants, one intelligence source said.

"Now they are excited about their freedom," he said. "Tomorrow there will be screenings to determine whether they are Boko Haram wives, whether they are from Chibok, how long they have been in the camps, and if they have children."

Some of the girls were injured, and some of the militants killed.

Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls near the northern village of Chibok in April 2014.

The actions of the militant group sparked international outcry and a widespread campaign for their rescue.

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s former military major general who won last month's elections, gave the following statement to mark the anniversary of the atrocity.

"[Today] we remember the kidnapping of 276 girls from a school in Chibok one year ago. This crime has rightly caused outrage both in Nigeria and across the world.

"[Today] is a time to reflect on the pain and suffering of the victims, their friends and families. Our thoughts and prayers, and that of the whole Nigerian Nation, are with you today.

"I want to assure all of them, and particularly the parents, that when my new administration takes office at the end of May, we will do everything we can to defeat Boko Haram. We will act differently from the Government we replace: we hear the anguish of our citizens and intend to respond accordingly."

Diplomats and intelligence officials said they believed at least some of the girls were being held in Sambisa forest which is around 100 km (60 miles) from Chibok, although US reconnaissance drones failed to find them.

Nigerian forces backed by warplanes invaded the vast former colonial game reserve late last week as part of a push to win back territory from the group.

Additional reporting by Reuters, AP

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