More than 60 girls and women kidnapped in northeast Nigeria last month by suspected Islamist militant group Boko Haram have reportedly fled their captors.
Their escape was confirmed to news agency AFP by a high-level though unnamed security source in the restive Borno state.
A local vigilante, Abbas Gava, also said he had “received an alert from my colleagues … that about 63 of the abducted women and girls had made it back home.”
More than 200 schoolgirls abducted in April are still being held by Boko Haram, which seeks to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in the country’s north.
The development follows Friday’s clashes between Nigerian soldiers and Boko Haram militants in Borno. At least 50 insurgents were killed as the Nigerian military repelled an attack on its military base in the town of Damboa, said the Defense Ministry on Saturday.
Six Nigerian soldiers, including the commanding officer, died during the fighting, said Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade.
An officer who requested anonymity told the AP that the raid appeared to be a reprisal attack by Boko Haram after the Nigerian military carried out devastating air strikes 24 hours earlier.