ABOVE PHOTO: Women and children rescued by Nigeria soldiers from Islamist extremists at Sambisa forest arrive at a camp for displaced people in Yola, Nigeria in May 2015. Nigeria’s military says troops freed 338 captives, mainly children and women, in raids on Boko Haram camps in northeast Nigeria. Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters says 30 militants of the Islamic extremist group were killed io Tuesday Oct. 27, 2015 in attacks on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)
By Michelle Faul
ABUJA, NIGERIA– Nigerian troops have rescued 338 captives, almost all children and women, from Boko Haram camps in a northeastern forest, the military said Wednesday.
Thirty extremists were killed Tuesday in attacks on two camps on the fringes of the Islamic insurgents’ holdout in Sambisa Forest, according to a Defense Headquarters statement on social media.
Separately, troops ambushed and killed four suspects on a bombing mission in northeastern Adamawa state, the statement said. Hundreds of people have died in suicide bombing attacks mainly targeting mosques and markets in recent months.
The military posted photographs of several guns and ammunition it said were seized in the attacks, along with images of bodies of alleged insurgents.
Nigerian troops have rescued hundreds of Boko Haram captives this year, but none of them were the 219 girls kidnapped from a school in Chibok town. Their mass abduction in April 2014 sparked international outrage against the extremists and Nigeria’s government for failing to rescue them. It highlighted military and government failures in fighting the 6-year-old Islamic uprising that has killed an estimated 20,000 people and driven 2.3 million from their homes, according to Amnesty International and the United Nations.
Those failures and massive corruption led Nigerians to vote out President Goodluck Jonathan and elect former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari in March.
Earlier this year, troops from Nigeria and Chad forced Boko Haram out of a large swath of northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram, which is allied with the Islamic State group, had declared an Islamic caliphate.
Buhari has promised to halt the uprising by December. Nigeria’s homegrown extremist group has responded with a relentless campaign of suicide bombings in northern, northeastern and central Nigeria, as well as in the neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
The deployment of a multinational force has been delayed without explanation for months.