The Nigerian Military is yet to ascertain the true identities of the 293 girls and women rescued from the Sambisa forest camps of Boko Haram, to confirm if the Chibok Girls are among them, the Defence Headquarters said on Thursday.
In a statement, the Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, said sustained ground operations, following aerial bombardments by the Air Force, had led to the capturing of over 13 camps of the terrorists in the notorious Sambisa forest and liberation of 200 girls and 93 women who are currently undergoing “comprehensive profiling.”
Until such comprehensive profiling is done, no one can confirm if they are among the Chibok Girls or not, Mr. Olukolade said.
“The true identity of some of the rescued women and girls are yet to be ascertained,” he said. “At the moment, what is upper most and of priority is their movement to a conducive place where they are now undergoing thorough profiling to verify their true identity, where they come from, how they found themselves in the forest, etc.”
Mr. Olukolade, however, said whoever the liberated hostages may be, the most important thing was that Nigerians held captives under severe and inhumane conditions had been freed by the troops.
He assured that more hostages would be freed and the military would sustain the operations until Sambisa forest, said to be the last bastion of the Boko Haram terrorists, is fully liberated.
According to the Defence spokesperson, over 13 terrorists camps, including the notorious Tokumbere camp in Sambisa forest, have been captured. Other camps overran and destroyed by troops included, Wulari Bukar, Gangala, Anguwar Bakwai, Jigide, Kotorima, Lagura Bello, Lagina Fulani, among others, he said.
He also disclosed that several field commanders and foot soldiers of the terrorist group lost their lives, while some armoured personnel carriers, bufallo vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns, a truck and several Hilux vehicles were destroyed by troops.
“Also recovered from the fleeing terrorists are a number of anti-aircraft guns, general purpose machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and several AK 47 rifles,” he said. “Unfortunately though, we lost one soldier in the course of the operation while 10 others have so far been wounded.
“Already, the dislodged and disorganized 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.”
While thanking Nigerians for their support and prayers, he assured, “Never again shall forces of darkness reign supreme in our country.”