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The Nigerian military has freed around 160 women and girls who had been kidnapped by Islamist Boko Haram. It comes after nearly 300 people were saved earlier in the week.
Nigerian troops rescued the women and children from the Sambisa Forest, where the Islamist terror group has been holed up. It is believed to be the same area to which 219 girls abducted from Chibok last year had initially been taken.
"We are still trying to compute the actual number of those rescued. But tentatively there are about 60 women of various ages and around 100 children," army spokesman Sani Usman told the AFP news agency. Usman said one woman was killed in the fighting and eight of the rescued hostages were injured. A soldier was also killed and four others wounded.
It is not yet clear if some of the 219 girls snatched by Boko Haram fighters last April are among the freed hostages. The mass kidnapping from Chibok, in Borno state, prompted global outrage and forced then-President Goodluck Jonathan to accept international help in the search operation for the missing girls.
The latest rescue operation comes two days after the military managed to bring to safety another nearly 300 girls and women from the same area.
Boko Haram strives to establish a caliphate in Nigeria. The mass kidnapping of girls and women as well as the forced conscription of men are key features of its brutal campaign.
Amnesty International said earlier this month that more than 2,000 women and girls have been abducted since the beginning of last year and subjected to forced labor and sexual and psychological abuse.
ng/sms (Reuters, AFP)