Nigeria’s military rescued 234 more girls and women from a Boko Haram forest stronghold in the country’s northeast, an announcement on social media said Saturday.
It brings the number of females declared rescued this week to more than 677.
“FLASH: Another set of 234 women and children were rescued through the Kawuri and Konduga end of the #Sambisa Forest on Thursday,” said a message on the official Twitter account of the Nigerian Defence Headquarters posted early Saturday.
The army has deployed ground troops into Sambisa Forest after weeks of punishing air raids on the area.
“The assault on the forest is continuing from various fronts and efforts are concentrated on rescuing hostages of civilians and destroying all terrorist camps and facilities in the forest,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade.
Sambisa Forest is the last holdout of the Islamic militants. President Goodluck Jonathan, whose term ends this month, pledged Thursday to “hand over a Nigeria completely free of terrorist strongholds.”
It is not known how many girls, women, boys and men Boko Haram has kidnapped during its nearly 6-year-old rebellion. Nigeria’s army has reported rescuing only females.
The Associated Press has reported that some women shot at their rescuers and were killed, with Boko Haram using them as an armed human shield for its main fighting force.
Read more: Time