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Nigerian Army Says Another 150 Freed From Boko Haram


Dr. Oby Ezekwesili expresses support about the rescue of some women and girls from Sambisa forest while a Nigerian protest group continues their sit-in about the girls that are still missing from Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria, April 29, 2015.

Dr. Oby Ezekwesili expresses support about the rescue of some women and girls from Sambisa forest while a Nigerian protest group continues their sit-in about the girls that are still missing from Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria, April 29, 2015.

The Nigerian army says it has freed another 150 people who were held captive by the militant group Boko Haram.

Army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman tells VOA that troops rescued about 100 children and 50 women on Wednesday as they fought their way through the Sambisa Forest in northeastern Nigeria. The vast forest holds many Boko Haram camps, and is believed to be the place where the group took many of the thousands of Nigerians it kidnapped over the past few years.

The army said it freed 200 girls and 93 women from the forest on Tuesday. Reporters have yet to see the former captives, and the military has released no photos of them.

The rescues have raised hopes that some of the 219 missing girls kidnapped from the town of Chibok last year will be found. However, initial statements from the army indicated that none of the Chibok girls were among those freed.

An army statement said the rescued captives were taken to a "safety zone" for processing, while a local security source, Muhammed Gava told journalists the girls were taken to Gumsuri village in the Damboa local government area.

Army spokesman Usman tells VOA that "some have started saying where they were from," or providing other information.

Usman says one soldier was killed and four others were injured in Wednesday's fighting. The army statement said troops killed several Boko Haram field commanders and foot soldiers and destroyed a number of large vehicles, including two armored personnel carriers. The army also said troops captured two tanks from the militants.

Nigeria, along with Chad, Cameroon and Niger, has pursued an offensive over the last three months that has cleared out most of the Nigerian towns and cities where Boko Haram was in control.

The Islamic extremist group continues to fight back. On Saturday, it attacked Karamga island in Lake Chad. The government of Niger says 46 soldiers and 28 civilians were killed in the ensuing gunbattle, along with 156 militants.

More than 10,000 people have been killed across northern Nigeria since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in 2009.

Chris Stein in Abuja and Abdulkareem Haruna in Maiduguri contributed to this story

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