Military Rescues 200 Girls, 93 Women from Sambisa Forest
Written by Taiwo Adediran on April 29, 2015
In what may be the likeliest clue on the whereabouts of the Chibok girls, the Nigerian military has rescued 293 women and girls from Sambisa forest, the last known enclave of Boko Haram terrorists.
A statement yesterday from PRNigeria, a media advisory for government security agencies, said Nigerian troops had in a “daring and precise operation stormed Sambisa forest and rescued about 300 women and girls”.
It added that at least three major terrorist camps were destroyed in the well-coordinated attacks that included the destruction of the notorious Tokumbere camp in the Sambisa forest.
The Director, Defence Information (DDI), Major-General Chris Olukolade, who confirmed the operation, however stated that he could not confirm the identity of the freed victims and their states of origin, and could not confirm if any of them was from Chibok until after thorough screening and investigations.
He said: “I can only confirm the rescue this afternoon of 200 girls and 93 women in different camps in the forest.
“We are yet to determine their origin as all the freed persons are now being screened and profiled. Please don’t misquote me on their origin. We will provide more details later.”
The Nigerian Army also confirmed the rescue of the women and girls from the forest.
Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, in a statement, said: “This is to inform you that our gallant troops have been making progress in the desired aim of ridding the nation of terrorists and their sanctuaries.
“It is heartwarming to inform you that today, troops continued the offensive and cleared four key terrorists camps in Sambisa Forest, Borno State.”
Usman further disclosed that the troops destroyed and cleared Sassa, Tokumbere and two other camps in the general area of Alafa, all within the Sambisa Forest.
“The troops have also rescued 200 abducted girls (not Chibok girls) and 93 women. They are presently being processed,” he added.
The army spokesman said a number of equipment and weapons were captured, and promised to send further details and photographs soon.
Speaking on the rescue of the 293 women and girls yesterday, military sources informed THISDAY that those who were rescued were still being interrogated to ascertain their identities.
One source said: “It is our suspicion that some of the girls may be from Chibok secondary school, who were abducted a year ago. But they were weak when they were recovered from captivity, so we would need a few days to verify their true identity.”
Also, a source from the Office of the National Security Adviser, revealed that during the raid on the key terrorists’ camps in the forest, six other girls were REPORTED to have fled into Cameroun and were apprehended by the authorities in the neighbouring country.
He said Camerounian officials had started debriefing the six girls, adding that the information extracted so far from the girls was akin to the abduction of the Chibok girls.
“But we would have to hear from the Camerounian authorities to ascertain if their story is true or not. But so far we do not have any official identity on the women and girls recovered from Sambisa,” he said.