TROOPS from the 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, Borno State, on Wednesday, killed several Boko Haram commanders and rescued more females.
This information was contained in a statement by Colonel Sani Usman, the acting Director of Army Public Relations.
Usman said the troops cleared several terrorists’ strong points and training camps in the Sambisa forest in Borno and killed several commanders and foot soldiers of the terrorists.
“The troops have also rescued additional women and children. They have been evacuated to a safety zone for further processing.
“During the encounter, unfortunately we lost a soldier while four others were wounded in action,” he said.
Usman said the troops destroyed two armoured personnel carriers, two Buffalo vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns, a truck and several Hilux vehicles.
“The gallant soldiers also recovered one anti-aircraft gun, one general purpose machine gun, one rocket propelled grenade and several AK-47 rifles.
“Sadly, one woman died and eight other women sustained gunshot wounds,” he said.
The Army spokesman said the troops destroyed nine terrorist camps in the forest, apart from the four destroyed on Tuesday.
He listed some of the camps as Wulari Bukar, Gangala, Anguwar Bakwai and Jigide, Kotorima, Lagara Bello and Lagara Fulani, among others.
Providing update on the ongoing counter-terrorism campaign in the North-East later on Thursday, Director, Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, while briefing journalists, said the well-coordinated operation was already yielding results, as troops, in the last few days, rescued 200 girls and 93 women, with an additional number of hostages.
This was as he encouraged any of the combatants engaged in insurgency in the country and desirous to surrender to come out and do so.
He said the Sambisa forest in Borno State would no more be tenable as a haven for their activities.
The troops, according to him, had commenced operations deep into the forest, after sustained aerial bombardments by the Nigerian Air Force, targeted at decimating and clearing the terrorists from the forest.
Olukolade said over 13 terrorists’ camps, including the notorious Tokumbere camp in Sambisa forest, had been captured.
He listed other camps overran and destroyed by troops to include Wulari Bukar, Gangala, Anguwar Bakwai, Jigide, Kotorima, Lagura Bello, Lagina Fulani, among others.
According to him, several field commanders and foot soldiers of the terrorist group had been killed, while also confirming that some armoured personnel carriers, Bufallo vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns, a truck and several Hilux vehicles were destroyed by troops.
“Unfortunately though, we lost one soldier in the course of the operation, while 10 others have so far been wounded,” he said.
Olukolade noted that the true identity of some of the rescued women and girls were yet to be ascertained.
He said at the moment, what was uppermost and of priority was their movement to a conducive place, where they were undergoing thorough profiling to verify their true identities.
The army chief maintained that additional number of persons were still being recovered from the forest.
He said until such comprehensive profiling was done, nobody could confirm whether they were among the Chibok girls or not.
“Whoever they may be, the important thing is that Nigerians held captive under very severe and inhuman condition have been freed by our gallant troops.
“The joy and sense of hope being expressed by many Nigerians on hearing about the rescue operation is, therefore, understandable.
“We would like to reassure them that the momentum of this operation will be sustained until that Sambisa forest is comprehensively cleaned out and all Nigerians held captive within the bowels of the forest are rescued.
“There is great hope for the recovery of more hostage of the terrorists.
“Already, the dislodged and disorganised terrorists are in flight on different directions and running helter-skelter in the expansive forest. There is no longer any respite or sanctuary for them; they will be pursued and tracked down, not minding the daunting challenges in the mission, including hundreds of land mines and difficult terrain of the Sambisa forest.
“It should be noted, however, that the essence of this operation is not to kill everybody in sight. We encourage any of the combatants who is desirous to surrender to come out, as the forest will no more be tenable as a haven for their activities.
“In the same vein, innocent civilians among those in flight are also encouraged to report themselves to the troops. We will continue to treat civilians in the most professional and humane way,” he said.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune in Maiduguri, Borno State, a top military officer, who did not want his name mentioned, revealed that over 400 Boko Haram fighters and commanders lost their lives in a clash with the Nigerian troops in Sambisa forests.
He also confirmed that a soldier and a woman lost their lives during the shootout.