Nigeria’s army says its forces have rescued 61 civilians from captivity by the Takfiri Boko Haram group in the country’s northeast.
The operation to free the abductees was backed by aerial cover in the violence-rattled Borno state, the army said in a statement on Thursday, AFP reported.
“The rescued persons were mainly women and children,” it said, adding that the troops had also “killed four terrorists and arrested one” during the operation.
Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly shooting attacks and bombings in various parts of Nigeria since the beginning of its militancy in 2009. The violence waged by the group has killed at least 17,000 people and forced more than 2.5 million to flee their homes since that year.
Boko Haram militants kidnapped 276 female students from their secondary school in the town of Chibok in Borno state in April last year. Reports say 57 of the girls managed to escape but 219 remain in captivity.
The abduction sent shockwaves throughout the world and invited much criticism for the country’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, for his slow response to the girls’ plight.
However, Jonathan’s successor, Muhammadu Buhari, has pledged to defeat the terrorists and has given the country’s military commanders until the end of December to meet that goal.
The military has claimed a string of successes against the militants in recent months.
Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters said in a statement on Monday that a man identified as Chindo Belloa, who was suspected of being one of the most-wanted members of the Takfiri group, had been detained in the capital, Abuja.
In early August, the army said it had freed 178 people, including more than 100 children, following an operation near Aulari town, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.