The Nigerian Military has reassured Nigerians that the momentum of the operations in the Sambisa forest in Borno would be sustained until totally cleaned out.
The Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, gave the assurance on Thursday in Abuja, while giving an update on the military operation in Sambisa forest.
Olukolade said “we will like to reassure Nigerians that the momentum of this operation will be sustained until Sambisa forest is comprehensively cleaned out.
“We want to ensure that all Nigerians held captive within the forest are rescued. There is great hope for the recovery of more hostages.
“The well coordinated operation is already yielding results as troops in the last few days rescued 200 girls and 93 women and an additional number of hostages.’’
The director added that the joy and sense of hope being expressed by many Nigerians on hearing about the rescue operation was understandable.
He said the dislodged and disorganised terrorists were in flight to different directions and running helter-skelter in the expansive forest.
Olukolade added that there was no longer any respite or sanctuary for the terrorists.
He explained that the terrorists would be pursued and tracked down, not minding the daunting challenges in the mission, including hundreds of land mines and difficult terrain of the Sambisa forest.
The defence spokesman added that the true identity of some of the rescued women and girls over the last few days was yet to be ascertained.
He said “at the moment, what is upper most and of priority is the movement of the rescued females to a conducive place, as they are now undergoing thorough profiling to verify their true identities.
“We must ascertain where they come from and how they found themselves in the forest as additional number of persons is still being recovered from the forest.
“Until such comprehensive profiling is done, nobody can confirm whether they are among the Chibok girls or not.
“Whoever they may be, the important thing is that Nigerians held captive under very severe and inhuman condition have been freed by our gallant troops.’’
Olukolade noted that the essence of the Sambisa forest operation was not to kill everybody in sight as the army encouraged any of the combatants who wanted to surrender to come out.
He, however, said “in the same vein, innocent civilians among those in flight are encouraged to report themselves to the troops.
“We will continue to treat civilians in the most professional and humane way.
“We thank all Nigerians for their continued prayers and support and assure them that never again shall forces of darkness reign supreme in our country. (NAN)