Nigeria’s military rescued another large group of women and girls who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram from the militant group’s forest stronghold, a defense ministry spokesman told NBC News on Thursday.
Earlier this week, Nigeria said it had rescued around 300 women and girls from the Sambisa Forest.
Gen. Chris Olukolade said Thursday that another “very large” group — including women and children — had been freed following a fierce firefight that destroyed a Boko Haram camp and killed some of the militants. One Nigerian soldier died in the fighting and four others were wounded, he added.
The first group’s rescue initially raised hopes that the Chibok girls — whose mass kidnap ignited global rallies and the #BringBackOurGirls campaign — finally had been found.
But government spokesman Mike Omeri told NBC News earlier on Thursday that none of the girls found in Tuesday’s rescue matched any of the 219 still missing from the Chibok kidnapping just over a year ago.
“They were found not to be members of the Chibok girls,” said Omeri, who is part of the outgoing administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. “We are currently screening them to find out where they are from.”
Aided by its neighbors, Nigeria has embarked on a renewed offensive against Boko Haram. Nigerian officials claim security forces have reclaimed all major northeastern towns previously overrun by the militants. The military has now turned its attention to the Sambisa Forest — a vast, remote area in northeast Nigeria that has become a stronghold for the Islamists.
This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com.