Nigerian army says it has rescued 293, but not the Chibok girls

Officials say that none of the people freed from Boko Haram are the schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok a year ago

Nigeria’s military says it has rescued 200 girls and 93 women from Boko Haram in the northeastern Sambisa Forest but they do not include any of the schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago from Chibok.

The army announced the rescue on Twitter Tuesday and said it is now screening and profiling the girls and women.

Army spokesman Col. Sani Usman told The Associated Press that troops destroyed and cleared four militant camps and rescued 200 abducted girls and 93 women “but they are not the Chibok girls.”

Nearly 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped from Chibok in northeastern Nigeria by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in April 2014. The militants took the schoolgirls in trucks into the Sambisa Forest. Dozens escaped on their own but 219 remain missing.

The plight of the schoolgirls, who have become known as “the Chibok girls,” has garnered international attention and the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

Their kidnapping brought Boko Haram to the attention of the world, arousing outrage and even U.S. first lady Michelle Obama got engaged, tweeting a photograph of herself with the campaign sign.

The Nigerian army announced two weeks ago that it would go into Sambisa Forest, which is a centre for the Boko Haram fighters, and that it believed the schoolgirls may still be there.

Boko Haram has kidnapped an unknown number of girls, women and young men to be used as sex slaves and fighters. Many have escaped or been released as a multinational offensive mounted at the end of January has driven Nigeria’s home-grown Islamic militants from almost all towns of the northeast. The only area left in control of Boko Haram was the Sambisa Forest, a national game reserve.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.