Nigeria’s military says it has rescued at least 160 more women and children who had been abducted by Boko Haram and were being held in the Sambisa Forest, considered to be the armed group’s last stronghold.
Colonel Sani Usman, an army spokesperson, said in a statement on Thursday that those rescued include around “60 women of various ages and around 100 children”
Their release comes a day after the Nigerian military rescued nearly 300 hostages – 200 girls and 93 women – in Boko Haram’s forest stronghold.
The survivors said that when they were initially captured, the militants had killed men and older boys in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest. Some were even forced into marriage. “We were fed only ground dry maize in the afternoons. It was not good for human consumption,” Cecilia Abel told Reuters. This led to malnutrition, disease and death.
Even with the crackle of gunfire signaling rescuers were near, the horrors did not end: Boko Haram fighters stoned captives to death, some girls and women were crushed by an armored car and three died when a land mine exploded as they walked to freedom.