Nigerian military: 234 more females rescued from extremists

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Nigerian military: 234 more females rescued from extremists
Nigerian police and civilians inspect the site of a suicide attack at a busy cattle market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on June 2, 2015. At least 13 people were killed in the attack, the Red Cross and civilian vigilantes battling Boko Haram said. The blast in the Borno state capital happened as traders were wrapping up business for the day. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
A vigilante stands in front of a burnt mud house in Gubio in Borno State, northeast Nigeria, on May 26, 2015. A weekend attack by Boko Haram in the northeast Nigerian town of Gubio left 37 people dead, with more than 400 buildings destroyed by fire, local vigilantes said on May 26. Boko Haram, which wants to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, has been pushed out of captured towns and territory since February by Nigerian troops with assistance from Niger, Chad and Cameroon. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Nigerien soldiers patrol along the Nigerian border, near the south-eastern city of Bosso, on May 25, 2015. Niger has extended for three months the state of emergency in its southeastern Diffa region where the army has been battling Boko Haram militants since February, authorities announced on May 27, 2015. The operation, nicknamed Barkhane, which succedeed to Serval one, is taking place across Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad and involves a total 3,000 French troops. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Girls rescued by Nigerian soldiers from Islamist militants Boko Haram at Sambisa Forest line up to collect donated clothes at the Malkohi refugee camp in Yola on May 5, 2015. They were among a group of 275 people rescued by the Nigerian military last week and arrived at the camp on May 2. The Nigerian military said it has rescued some 700 women and children in the past weeks. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL AREWA (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL AREWA/AFP/Getty Images)
People from the Nigerian town of Malam Fatori an its area, close to the borders with Niger and Chad, pass by a car with Chadian Gendarmes (in uniform) as they flee Islamist Boko Haram attacks to take shelter in the Niger's town of Bosso secure by Niger and Chad armies, on May 25, 2015. Boko Haram, which wants to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, has been pushed out of captured towns and territory since February by Nigerian troops with assistance from Niger, Chad and Cameroon. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-riot policemen look at a burnt mud house in Gubio in Borno State, northeast Nigeria, on May 26, 2015. A weekend attack by Boko Haram in the northeast Nigerian town of Gubio left 37 people dead, with more than 400 buildings destroyed by fire, local vigilantes said on May 26. Boko Haram, which wants to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, has been pushed out of captured towns and territory since February by Nigerian troops with assistance from Niger, Chad and Cameroon. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
An anti-riot policeman stands in front of a burnt house in Gubio in Borno State, northeast Nigeria, on May 26, 2015. A weekend attack by Boko Haram in the northeast Nigerian town of Gubio left 37 people dead, with more than 400 buildings destroyed by fire, local vigilantes said on May 26. Boko Haram, which wants to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, has been pushed out of captured towns and territory since February by Nigerian troops with assistance from Niger, Chad and Cameroon. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman rescued by Nigerian soldiers from Islamist militants Boko Haram at Sambisa Forest waits to receive treatment at the Federal Medical Centre in Yola on May 5, 2015. They were among a group of 275 people rescued by the Nigerian military last week and arrived at the camp on May 2. The Nigerian military said it has rescued some 700 women and children in the past weeks. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL AREWA (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL AREWA/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman rescued by Nigerian soldiers from Islamist militants Boko Haram at Sambisa Forest prays at the Malkohi refugee camp in Yola on May 5, 2015. They were among a group of 275 people rescued by the Nigerian military last week and arrived at the camp on May 2. The Nigerian military said it has rescued some 700 women and children in the past weeks. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL AREWA (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL AREWA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chadian newspapers with headlines pertaining to Chad's military intervention against Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram reading ' Look out Deby is coming!' (L), 'Chadian army combs through Gambaru' (R) are displayed on February 2, 2015 in N'Djamena. Chadian aircraft struck Boko Haram positions in the Nigerian border town of Gamboru for a second straight day on february 1, an AFP journalist in a neighbouring town said. Three Chadian soldiers and 123 Boko Haram fighters were killed in two days of clashes in northern Cameroon earlier this week, according to Chad's military. AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on January 27, 2015 shows Chadian soldiers watching as a UN vehicle from a United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) convoy crosses a branch of lake Chad, heading to the UNHCR camp in N'Gouboua, in Chad's Lake Chad region. Since the beginning of January more than 14,000 people have fled over the Nigerian border into Chad to escape the bloody attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram around Baga, according to Mamadou Dian Balde, of the UN's refugee agency. AFP PHOTO/ SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on January 27, 2015 shows a man pulling a transport platform made of metal barrels carrying a UN vehicle from a United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) to cross a branch of lake Chad, on their way to the UNHCR camp in N'Gouboua, in Chad's Lake Chad region. Since the beginning of January more than 14,000 people have fled over the Nigerian border into Chad to escape the bloody attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram around Baga, according to Mamadou Dian Balde, of the UN's refugee agency. AFP PHOTO/ SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on January 27, 2015 shows Nigerians from the northeast town of Baga sitting in a United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) camp in N'Gouboua, in Chad's Lake Chad region, during a meeting with the camp's personnel. Since the beginning of January more than 14,000 people have fled over the Nigerian border into Chad to escape the bloody attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram around Baga, according to Mamadou Dian Balde, of the UN's refugee agency. AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on January 27, 2015 shows Nigerian men sitting in the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) camp in N'Gouboua, in Chad's Lake Chad region, during a meeting with the camp's personnel. Since the beginning of January more than 14,000 people have fled over the Nigerian border into Chad to escape the bloody attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram around Baga, according to Mamadou Dian Balde, of the UN's refugee agency. AFP PHOTO/ SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)
ADAMAWA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 6: Nigerians fled their homes in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States due to the clashes between Nigeria's militant group Boko Haram and Nigerian Army, hold on life under tough conditions at a camp set up by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Damari, Adamawa State, Nigeria on December 6, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY AMINU A BUBAKAR A signbaord bearing the name of one of the missing Chibok schoolgirls, Naomi Zakaria, is palced close to Christmas decorations on December 17, 2014, at Ikoyi, in Lagos, by civil society campaigning for the release of the abducted girls. The northeast Nigeria town of Chibok used to fill up before Christmas as people returned home to visit their families, but with the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram still missing, few feel like celebrating this year. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
An ecavuated fish stand is seen as Nigerian security inspect the site of a bomb blast at the Jos Terminus Market, on December 12, 2014. A double bomb attack that killed 31 people in a crowded market in the central Nigerian city of Jos was likely to have been carried out by Boko Haram, the state government said. 'It's an extension of the terrorist acts that have been penetrating all states and cities,' Pam Ayuba, spokesman for the Plateau state governor Jonah Jang, told AFP by telephone. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
YOLA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 06: Local hunter known as Vigilante armed with locally made gun is seen on a pick up truck in Yola city of Adamawa State in Nigeria before he moves to border region between Nigeria and Cameroon to support Nigerian army fighting with Boko Haram militants on December 06, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
YOLA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 06: Local hunters known as Vigilantes armed with locally made guns are seen on a pick up truck in Yola city of Adamawa State in Nigeria before they move to border region between Nigeria and Cameroon to support Nigerian army fighting with Boko Haram militants on December 06, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ADAMAWA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 6: Nigerians fled their homes in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States due to the clashes between Nigeria's militant group Boko Haram and Nigerian Army, hold on life under tough conditions at a camp set up by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Damari, Adamawa State, Nigeria on December 6, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ADAMAWA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 6: Nigerians fled their homes in Yobe, Borno states due to the clashes between Nigeria's militant group Boko Haram and army forces, hold on life at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camps in Damari, Adamawa state of Nigeria on December 6,2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ADAMAWA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 6: Nigerians fled their homes in Yobe, Borno states due to the clashes between Nigeria's militant group Boko Haram and army forces, hold on life at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camps in Damari, Adamawa state of Nigeria on December 6,2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A young boy injured in the twin suicide blast at Kano central mosque arrives at the accident and emergency ward of the Nassarawa Specilist Hospital on November 28, 2014. At least 120 people were killed and 270 others wounded when two suicide bombers blew themselves up and gunmen opened fire during weekly prayers at the mosque, a week after the emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, of one of Nigeria's top Islamic leaders called on northerners to defend themselves against Boko Haram Islamists tha have been carrying deadly attacks and seizure of territory in the northeast. AFP PHOTO / Aminu ABUBAKAR (Photo credit should read AMINU ABUBAKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
YOLA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 06: Local hunters known as Vigilantes armed with locally made guns are seen on a pick up truck in Yola city of Adamawa State in Nigeria before they move to border region between Nigeria and Cameroon to support Nigerian army fighting with Boko Haram militants on December 06, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
YOLA, NIGERIA DECEMBER 06: Local hunter known as Vigilante is seen with bullet shots hanging over his neck on a pick up truck in Yola city of Adamawa State in Nigeria before they move to border region between Nigeria and Cameroon to support Nigerian army fighting with Boko Haram militants on December 06, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
YOLA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 06: Local hunters known as Vigilantes armed with locally made guns are seen on a pick up truck in Yola city of Adamawa State in Nigeria before they move to border region between Nigeria and Cameroon to support Nigerian army fighting with Boko Haram militants on December 06, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
YOLA, NIGERIA DECEMBER 06: Local hunter known as Vigilante armed with locally made gun and knife is seen on a pick up truck in Yola city of Adamawa State in Nigeria before they move to border region between Nigeria and Cameroon to support Nigerian army fighting with Boko Haram militants on December 06, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
YOLA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 06: Local hunters known as Vigilantes armed with locally made guns are seen on a pick up truck in Yola city of Adamawa State in Nigeria before they move to border region between Nigeria and Cameroon to support Nigerian army fighting with Boko Haram militants on December 06, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
YOLA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 06: Local hunters known as Vigilantes armed with locally made guns are seen on a pick up truck in Yola city of Adamawa State in Nigeria before they move to border region between Nigeria and Cameroon to support Nigerian army fighting with Boko Haram militants on December 06, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
YOLA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 06: Local hunters known as Vigilantes armed with locally made guns perform prayer on a pick up truck in Yola city of Adamawa State in Nigeria before they move to border region between Nigeria and Cameroon to support Nigerian army fighting with Boko Haram militants on December 06, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
YOLA, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 06: Local hunters known as Vigilantes armed with locally made guns perform prayer on a pick up truck in Yola city of Adamawa State in Nigeria before they move to border region between Nigeria and Cameroon to support Nigerian army fighting with Boko Haram militants on December 06, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Some of 59 Nigerian soldiers facing trial on charges of mutiny and conspiracy to commit mutiny over claims that they refused to fight Boko Haram militants sit handcuffed on October 15, 2014 in the military courtroom in Abuja. The soldiers, all members of the 111th Special Forces Battalion, all pleaded not guilty in court. They are also accused of refusing to deploy in August to recapture the towns of Yelwa, Bellabulini and Dambo in Borno state from Boko Haram, according to the charge sheet. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Mother of a missing Chibok schoolgirl, Rebecca Samuel, sits during a #BringBackOurGirls rally in the Nigerian capital Abuja on October 14, 2014. Nigerian police on Tuesday blocked supporters of 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants from marching on the president's official residence on the six-month anniversary of the abduction. A wall of female officers in full riot gear formed the first line of a barricade in front of less than 100 members of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, preventing them from setting out.AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Muslim faithfuls take part in Eid Al-Adha prayer at the Syrian Mosque in Lagos on October 4, 2014. Nigeria's embattled northeast Yobe and Borno states the day before imposed a travel ban through the Muslim holiday weekend to guard against Boko Haram attacks, barring motorists from reaching their families for the Eid celebration. The Eid al-Adha, or Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca and is celebrated in remembrance of Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son to God. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Schoolgirls who have escaped from Boko Haram kidnappers in the village of Chibok, sit at the Government house to speak with State Governor Kashim Shettima in Maiduguri on June 2, 2014. Governor Shettima met with twenty-eight schoolgirls that escaped from Islamist abductors, their parents and also parents of more then 200 missing girls to seek ways of assisting them. Protests by supporters the schoolgirls have been banned in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, by the police on June 2. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed Cameroonian men of the rapid intervention battalion (BIR) patrol on May 29, 2014 in Waza, northern Cameroon. Boko Haram gunmen killed 35 people in attacks on three villages in Nigeria's restive northeast Borno state near the border with Cameroon, a military source and residents said today. Violence blamed on the Islamist group, whose name means 'Western education is forbidden', has killed thousands since 2009. AFP PHOTO / REINNIER KAZE (Photo credit should read Reinnier KAZE/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman with a sticker on her head bearing the slogan 'Bring back our girls' marches for the release of the more than 200 abducted Chibok school girls in Lagos on May 29, 2014, during a demonstration by civil society groups and celebrities of the film and entertainment industries to press for the girls' release, seven weeks after their abduction by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, and on the occasion of Nigeria's Democracy Day. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed on May 29 total war against terrorism as the country's security forces stepped up efforts to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists 45 days ago. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Nollywood celebrity Patience Ozokwor, aka Mama G, pleads for the release of the more than 200 abducted Chibok school girls in Lagos on May 29, 2014, during a demonstration by civil society groups and celebrities of the film and entertainment industries to press for the girls' release, seven weeks after their abduction by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, and on the occasion of Nigeria's Democracy Day. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed on May 29 total war against terrorism as the country's security forces stepped up efforts to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists 45 days ago. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman writes the slogan 'Bring Back Our Girls' on the face of another as they prepare to march in Lagos on May 29, 2014, in a demonstration by civil society groups and celebrities of the film and entertainment industries to press for the quick release of more than 200 abducted Chibok school girls, seven weeks after their abduction by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, and on the occasion of Nigeria's Democracy Day. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed on May 29 total war against terrorism as the country's security forces stepped up efforts to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists 45 days ago. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Students from Midreshet Shalhevet High School for Girls protest outside the Nigerian consulate for more action to be taken to rescue the school girls kidnapped by the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram In Nigeria on May 28, 2014 in New York City. More than 300 teenage girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Nigeria on April 15, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
ABUJA, NIGERIA - MAY 25: Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'adu Abubakar (not seen) makes a speech on Boko Haram militants at the National Mosque in Abuja, Nigeria on May 25, 2014. (Photo by Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ABUJA, NIGERIA - MAY 25: Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'adu Abubakar (C) makes a speech on Boko Haram militants at the National Mosque in Abuja, Nigeria on May 25, 2014. (Photo by Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People march holding placards as hundreds of Soweto residents gather at the YMCA in Soweto, Johannesbourg, on May 22, 2014, to demonstrate for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria. The United States has deployed 80 military personnel to Chad to help findthe 223 girls still missing since their abduction on April 14, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
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YOLA, Nigeria (AP) -- Nigeria's military rescued 234 more girls and women from a Boko Haram forest stronghold in the country's northeast, the military announced Saturday.

More than 677 females have been released this week, as the Nigerian military continues its campaign to push the Islamic extremists out their last remaining strongholds in the Sambisa Forest.

Nigerian Rescue Highlights Scope of Boko Haram Kidnappings

"FLASH: Another set of 234 women and children were rescued through the Kawuri and Konduga end of the (hash)Sambisa Forest on Thursday," said the Nigerian Defense Headquarters early Saturday on its official Twitter account.

The army has deployed ground troops into the 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.

In recent weeks the military and troops from neighboring countries have taken back control of towns in northeastern Nigeria that had been held by Boko Haram and where the extremists had declared an Islamic caliphate.

Sambisa Forest is reported to be the Islamic militants' last holdout. 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.

Some women shot at their rescuers and were killed, as Boko Haram used them as an armed human shield for its main fighting force.

Soldiers were shocked when women opened fire on troops who had come to rescue them in the village of Nbita last week, The Associated Press was told by a military intelligence officer and a soldier who were at the scene. The women killed seven soldiers and soldiers fighting back killed 12 of the women and wounded several others, they said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Most of the females who have been released are traumatized, said army spokesman Col. Sani Usman. Nigeria's military says it has flown in medical and intelligence teams to screen the rescued girls and women and find out their identities.

It is still not known if any are the schoolgirls kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok town a year ago - a mass kidnapping that outraged much of the world.

Some identify with the insurgents' extremist ideology after months of captivity and forced marriages, a counselor who has helped rehabilitate other women held captive by Boko Haram told the AP. It remains unclear if some of the women had willingly joined Boko Haram, or are family members of fighters.

Some of the freed women and girls are pregnant, Muhammad Gavi, a spokesman for a self-defense group that fights Boko Haram, said citing information from group members who have seen the females.

Amnesty International called on authorities "to ensure that the trauma of those `rescued' is not exacerbated by lengthy security screening in detention."

The Nigerian military Friday released photos of about 20 subdued-looking children and women they said the pictures were taken between Tuesday and Thursday in the Sambisa Forest. They females look generally healthy but at least one child looks emaciated and some children have the orange-colored hair signaling severe malnutrition.

A young military medic with blue rubber gloves and a surgical mask appears to be checking several children.

Boko Haram continues to attack in isolated places. A Boko Haram attack on Karamga island in Lake Chad last weekend killed 156 militants, 46 Niger soldiers and 28 civilians, said the government of the neighboring country of Niger.

The governor of a province in Niger has ordered residents living near Lake Chad to evacuate by Monday when troops will flush the militants from hideouts, said a government official.

As the Islamic insurgency spilled over Nigeria's borders, a multinational force formed with troops from the neighboring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon deployed at the end of January. Nigeria's military, which had largely failed to curb the rebellion, has been reinvigorated by new weapons including helicopter gunships.

--

Associated Press writer Haruna Umar contributed to this report from Maiduguri, Nigeria.

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