Nigeria: Army said to have rescued nearly 300 girls, women from Boko Haram

None of the 200 schoolgirls kidnapped near the village of Chibok last year are believed to be among those rescued

Nigeria’s army said Tuesday it has rescued 200 girls and 93 women during a military operation to wrest back the Sambisa Forest from the Boko Haram armed group.

“Troops this afternoon rescued 200 girls and 93 women from Sambisa Forest,” the army said on its Twitter account. A spokesman later told Reuters that those rescued did not include any “Chibok girls,” a reference to the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped from the town of Chibok in northeast Nigeria in April 2014. That incident sparked an international outcry over the horrific violence unleashed by the group for years with little response by government.

The army also said Nigerian troops had destroyed three camps run by Boko Haram fighters there.

In April 2014, shortly after the schoolgirls from Chibok were abducted, an army spokesman claimed it had rescued most of the girls and only eight were stilll missing. The report was disputed by the school’s principal and was proven to be false.

Diplomats and intelligence officials say they believed at least some of the girls were being held in the forest about 60 miles from Chibok, although U.S. 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.

The group, notorious for violence against civilians, controlled an area roughly the size of Belgium at the start of the year but has since been beaten back by Nigerian troops, backed by Chad, Niger and Cameroon.