An unknown number of girls, kidnapped seven years ago from a government school in Chibok, Nigeria, are believed to have escaped after the military launched an offensive in the Sambisa Forest in Borno state, a Boko Haram base where the girls and many other kidnap victims are believed to be held.
One of the girls, Halima Ali Maiyanga, spoke to her father Friday from military custody, confirming the escape.
Former chairman of the Chibok community Hosea Adama, speaking to VOA via a messaging app, says the town is celebrating the news: "People are happy, yes it is true. Even if it's one (girl), the whole village will jubilate over it."
The Nigerian military has yet to respond to questions or issue a statement on the matter.
However, Adama says the military is profiling the rescued victims to ascertain how many of them are Chibok girls, who would now be in their late teens and early 20s.
"Up tlll now, we don't know who is involved and how many. Even the soldiers, people contacted them, they don't have the right information. They are still profiling," he said.
In 2014, Boko Haram militants raided a government secondary school in Chibok town and kidnapped 276 girls.
Dozens of the girls escaped soon after and about 100 of them were freed through negotiations between 2016 and 2017.
Hosea says five of his nieces are among the Chibok girls who are yet to be found, and he's hoping they're among the new batch of returnees.