The Nigerian military says it has rescued 149 women and children abducted by the armed group Boko Haram in the country’s northeast.
Onyema Nwachuku, the army spokesman, said on Sunday the freed captives included 54 women and 95 children, according to the NAN news agency.
“The rescued hostages are currently receiving medical attention,” he said in a statement, adding that they would be “profiled after the medical screening”.
The rescues took place during a raid on a Boko Haram hideout in the community of Yerimari Kura on Saturday. Soldiers killed three fighters during the operation and captured five others suspected of belonging to the group, Nwachuku said.
His statement did not specify when the women and children had been abducted.
Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from Abuja, capital of Nigeria, said the number of people Boko Haram had kidnapped in Yerimari Kura “demonstrated the group’s resilience”, despite losing significant swaths of territory to the Nigerian army in recent years.
Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden”, has waged a nearly 10-year armed campaign to create an Islamic state in northeastern Nigeria.
The conflict has left at least 20,000 people dead and displaced more than 2.6 million.
At its peak, the group effectively controlled large areas in the Lake Chad region, but the Nigerian military, with assistance from Chad, Cameroon and Niger, has pushed Boko Haram fighters out of a number of provinces.
However, “Boko Haram has adapted by splitting into smaller groups, infiltrating communities, launching attacks here and there and continuing to make statements that they are very much around”, said Idris.
In March, a Boko Haram attack on the northeastern town of Rann left at least two aid workers, a doctor and eight soldiers dead.
In February, Nigerian and Cameroonian troops freed 1,130 civilians kidnapped by the group in the Lake Chad region.
Boko Haram gained international notoriety after its fighters kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok in April 2014. About 100 girls are still missing.
In February, the group’s fighters attacked another school in the northeastern state of Yobe and seized more than 110 schoolgirls. A month later, the government said 101 had been freed.