By Michelle Faul
and Haruna Umar
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Nigerian troops rescued nearly 300 girls and women during an offensive Tuesday against Boko Haram militants in the northeastern Sambisa Forest, the military said, but they did not include any of the schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok a year ago.
The army announced the rescue on Twitter and said it was screening and interviewing the abducted girls and women.
Troops destroyed and cleared four militant camps and rescued 200 abducted girls and 93 women “but they are not the Chibok girls,” army spokesman Col. Sani Usman told The Associated Press.
Nearly 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped from the northeastern town of Chibok by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in April 2014. The militants took the schoolgirls in trucks into the Sambisa Forest. Dozens escaped, but 219 remain missing.
The plight of the schoolgirls, who have become known as “the Chibok girls,” aroused international outrage and a campaign for their release under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
Their kidnapping brought Boko Haram to the attention of the world, with even U.S. first lady Michelle Obama becoming involved as she tweeted a photograph of herself holding the campaign sign.
Boko Haram has kidnapped an unknown number of girls, women and young men to be used as sex slaves and fighters.