More than 800 people held captive by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram were rescued in two separate missions, the Nigerian army reported.
On Tuesday, 520 people were rescued in the village of Kusumma with three Boko Haram fighters killed and one captured, Nigerian army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman said.
An additional 309 people were freed earlier this week after a battle in the Kala Blage area in which 22 militants were reportedly killed.
The rescues were part of “clearance operations” in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, in territory formerly held by Boko Haram. The Nigerian government has been battling the violent Islamist group since 2009, and has essentially declared victory, noting that Boko Haram is no longer capable of conducting large-scale attacks on civilian populations.
A risk of isolated suicide attacks, like one earlier in March that killed 22 people in a Maiduguri mosque, remains, however; Boko Haram is suspected of responsibility for that attack, Usman said.
More than 20,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Nigeria since the conflict began, and about 2.3 million have been displaced.