Nigerian troops rescue additional 160 women, girls from Sambisa forest
The Nigerian military said on Thursday that it was yet to establish the full identities of the 293 women and girls rescued from Sambisa forest.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said, “The true identity of some of the rescued women and girls are yet to be ascertained. At the moment, what is uppermost and of priority is their movement to a conducive place where they are now undergoing profiling to verify their true identity, where they come from, how they found themselves in the forest, and so on.”
According to Olukolade, what is of utmost importance to the military was to establish the full identities of the freed hostages and to finish the job of liberating the entire Sambisa forest from the siege of Boko Haram terrorists.
The defence spokesman, who spoke at a joint press conference with the spokespersons of the army, navy and air force, confirmed that more hostages were still being rescued from the forest.
“Until such comprehensive profiling is done, nobody can confirm whether they are among the Chibok girls or not,” he said.
Reports put the additional number of women and children rescued from the Sambisa forest on Wednesday at 160. The rescue of these women and girls who were held in horrifying conditions as informed by a military source that over 160 brings the total number of female rescuees from the forest to 453.
Reports indicate that a female hostage and a soldier were killed during the rescue operation at the forest.
For Olukolade, what is uppermost is releasing all the hostages no matter where they came from, including the Chibok girls.
“Whoever they may be, the important thing is that Nigerians held captive under very severe and inhuman condition have been freed by our gallant troops.
“The joy and sense of hope being expressed by many Nigerians on hearing about the rescue operation is therefore understandable.
“We would like to reassure them that the momentum of this operation will be sustained until Sambisa forest is comprehensively cleaned out and all Nigerians held captive within the bowels of the forest are rescued.
“There is great hope for the recovery of more hostages of the terrorists,” he explained.
“Other camps overrun and destroyed by troops include Wulari Bukar, Gangala, Anguwar Bakwai, Jigide, Kotorima, Lagura Bello and Lagina Fulani, among others”.
Olukolade further revealed that several field commanders and foot soldiers of the terrorist group had lost their lives, “some armoured personnel carriers, Buffalo vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns, a truck and several Hilux vehicles were destroyed by troops”.
Also recovered from the fleeing terrorists, he revealed, were a number of anti-aircraft guns, general purpose machine guns, rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and several AK 47 rifles.
“Unfortunately, we lost one soldier in the course of the operation while 10 others have so far been wounded,” he said.
He told reporters at the briefing that the dislodged and disorganised terrorists were on the run to different directions “and running helter-skelter in the expansive forest”.
“There is no longer any respite or sanctuary for them; they will be pursued and tracked down, not minding the daunting challenges in the mission including hundreds of landmines and difficult terrain of the Sambisa forest.
“It should be noted however that the essence of this operation is not to kill everybody in sight. We encourage any of the combatants who are desirous to surrender to come out, as the forest will no more be tenable as a haven for their activities.
“In the same vein, innocent civilians among those in flight are also encouraged to report themselves to the troops. We will continue to treat civilians in the most professional and humane way,” he said.
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