(AA) – The Nigerian army announced early Thursday rescuing more women and children from Sambisa Forest, a Boko Haram stronghold in the country’s restive northeast, while killing several of the group’s field commanders and foot soldiers.
“I wish to inform you that today’s evening, troops of 7 Division Nigerian Army cleared several terrorists’ strong points and training camps within Sambisa Forest,” Sani Usman, the army spokesman, said in a statement.
“The troops have also rescued additional women and children,” he said. “They have been evacuated to a safety zone for further processing.”
The spokesman regretted that one woman died and eight others sustained gunshot wounds during the operation.
He added that one soldier was also killed and four others wounded in action.
“The troops have also killed several Boko Haram field commanders and foot soldiers,” said Usman.
He asserted that so far the troops have destroyed 13 militants’ camps in Sambisa Forest, a vast expanse of difficult terrain that is said to be Boko Haram’s last stronghold.
“I am glad to say that troops’ morale is very high as they are poised to accomplish the task of destroying all terrorists’ camps and rescuing all those held hostage by the terrorists,” said Usman.
On Tuesday, the army announced it had rescued 200 girls and 93 women from Sambisa Forest.
Nigeria is fighting a six-year Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced over one million people from the country’s northeast, where the insurgents have been the most ruthless.
The Nigerian military – backed by Nigerien and Chadian troops – recently liberated all territory captured earlier by Boko Haram in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
Although experts caution against undue complacency, the recent army onslaught has significantly weakened Boko Haram, whose militant activity appears to have waned since last month.