60 escape from Boko Haram

Escape follows days of heavy combat in northeast Nigeria

More than 60 girls and women kidnapped in June by Islamist militant group Boko Haram are reported to have escaped their captors in a remote area of north-east Nigeria. They were among the group abducted last month in the troubled Borno state and their escape is believed to have taken place while the militants were attacking a military base in the region on 4 July.

The Nigerian army said that the heavy fighting at their base in the town of Damboa resulted in the deaths of more than 50 insurgents and six Nigerian soldiers including the commanding officer.

The first group of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in April are still being held by Boko Haram whose goal is to carve out a fundamentalist Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

In May the army said it knew where the girls captured in April were being held but feared intervening in case the girls would be killed by their captors. The army has not revealed the location but it is thought to be in a remote Sambisia forest in Borno state, near the border with Chad and Cameroon.