Nigeria’s military said Friday that its men have rescued 3,212 civilians held captive by Boko Haram gunmen for several months.
The captives were freed on Thursday after heavy shootouts between Nigerian soldiers and Boko Haram insurgents in villages around Dikwa.
Dikwa is about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of the Sambisa Forest, where the military has claimed to have contained the Islamic extremists.
One rescued victim told reporters they had been trapped for five months since Boko Haram took over their area.
“Many of our young men were taken away, some of us were killed and our food stores looted,” said the man, identified as a 56-year-old farmer and father of nine.
“We barely lived on the little that was available,” he said, supporting reports that the military has cut Boko Haram’s supply routes and the insurgents are short of food and ammunition.
Some 20,000 people have died in the 6-year-old Islamic uprising that has spread to Nigeria’s neighbours, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
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