A major military operation is expected to begin near the Sambisa Forest in Nigeria, where the Nigerian government believes terrorists are holding some 276 young girls, two Nigerian newspapers reported Friday.
There are conflicting reports on how many girls were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, in northeast Nigeria, but Borno State Police released new figures Friday, saying that at least 276 girls have been held for 17 days, the Vanguard newspaper reported.
Their captors are believed to be from the Boko Haram terror group, which is known to hideout in the Sambisa Forest.
Borno police say they believe 276 young women were snatched, while 53 others escaped, but it’s difficult to confirm numbers on the missing girls because they depend on parents claiming their daughters missing, and some may not have come forward yet.
Both the Vanguard and the Nigerian Tribune reported that four battalions from various national military divisions are expected to storm the Sambisa Forest, taking positions around all its access routes.
The government has also mobilized Nigerian Air Force fighter jets and police surveillance helicopters, which are waiting for the command to begin joint security operations to rescue the girls. By surrounding all roads to in and out of the forest, the military is hoping to trap the militants and prevent their escape.
Specially trained counter terrorist units, and land mine and anti-bomb experts will also help with rescue efforts. In addition to military troops, the government has set up medical personnel, facilities, and ambulances to attend to any injuries sustained in the mission.