One of the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 was found and rescued Saturday from the Islamic extremist group's hideout in the remote Sambisa forest in northeast Nigeria, military officials said.
With the girl was her 10-month-old baby — fathered by a Boko Haram fighter, according to the Associated Press.
The rescue happened 2½ years after Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped the girls from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Nigeria's Borno State. Dozens of them escaped shortly after the kidnapping. Last month, 21 girls were freed after negotiations between Boko Haram and government officials.
The April 14, 2014, mass kidnapping prompted the creation of the Bring Back Our Girls movement. The campaign, which pushed for more action from the Nigerian government, drew support from around the world, including first lady Michelle Obama. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to secure the release of the girls who remain missing, the AP reported.
In a brief statement, Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, spokesman for the Nigerian army, said troops rescued the girl and her son at about 6 a.m. Saturday while screening escapees in the Sambisa forest, where Boko Haram was believed to be holding hundreds of captives.
Although the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls drew international attention, thousands of other girls and women have been kidnapped by Boko Haram. The insurgent group, intent on creating an Islamic state, has been terrorizing Nigeria since 2009.
Captives were kept in tiny huts and assaulted almost daily by Boko Haram fighters as part of the group's savage campaign of rape and sexual slavery, The Washington Post's Kevin Sieff wrote in April. Many were forced into marriages. Others were indoctrinated and turned into suicide bombers, while those who resisted were killed.
Thousands of other captives were freed during military operations that forced Boko Haram out of towns and cities the group controlled. The women who were rescued are shunned and labeled “Boko Haram wives.” Many view them with suspicion, fearing they were brainwashed during their captivity.
In August, the militant group published a video apparently showing recent footage of dozens of the Chibok schoolgirls.
“We want to send this message to the parents of these girls for them to know that these girls are still with us, some of them, and secondly they should tell the federal government of Nigeria to, with immediate effect, release our imprisoned brothers,” a masked man, standing behind dozens of girls, said in the video, which was published on social media.
The man said about 40 of the girls have been married, while some have been killed in airstrikes.
One schoolgirl escaped in May and was found wandering in the dense Sambisa forest. The girl is still being held by government officials, who said she and the 21 others are receiving trauma counseling and other treatments in a military hospital in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, according to the AP.