Over 200 Chibok schoolgirls abducted in April 2014 by Boko Haram militants were not among a group of women and girls rescued by the Nigerian army in Sambisa forest Tuesday, the army has said.
The Nigerian military said troops rescued 200 girls and 93 women from the vast forest which served as a hideout for Boko Haram, the insurgent group that has killed nearly 20,000 people.
It could not however confirm whether the girls were students abducted from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, on April 14.
The military said the girls were being “screened and profiled” to determine where they came from.
“Troops this afternoon rescued 200 girls & 93 women from Sambisa Forest. We cannot confirm if the #ChibokGirls are in this group,” the defence headquarters said on Twitter Tuesday evening.
“Troops captured and destroyed 3 terrorists camps including the notorious Tokumbere camp in the Sambisa Forest Operation.
“The freed persons are now being screened and profiled,” while promising to provide more detail on the operation later.”
Defence spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, also told PRNigeria website, “I can only confirm the rescued this afternoon of 200 girls and 93 women in different camps in the forest. We are yet to determine their origin as all the freed persons are now being screened and profiled.”
But the spokesperson for the army, Sani Usman, a colonel, has told Reuters news agency the rescued girls were not, however, from Chibok.
Neither Mr. Olukolade nor Mr. Usman responded to calls Tuesday.
Reuters also quoted an intelligence source as saying the rescued girls and women will be screened on Wednesday to determine whether they had been abducted or if they were married to Boko Haram militants.
“Now they are excited about their freedom,” the source said. “Tomorrow there will be screenings to determine whether they are Boko Haram wives, whether they are from Chibok, how long they have been in the camps, and if they have children.”
Another source said the girls were found “near or on the way to Sambisa”.