YOLA, Nigeria (AP) — The Nigerian military says it destroyed 10 Boko Haram forest camps over the weekend, but the Islamic extremists killed a man and abducted several women as they attacked a recently recaptured town, according to witnesses.
Soldiers killed many militants and captured heavy weaponry in Saturday's offensive in northeastern Sambisa Forest, said spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade of the Ministry of Defense. One soldier was killed by a land mine when troops overran 10 Boko Haram camps, Olukolade said.
This comes after a surge in attacks by the Islamic extremists including suicide bombings, assaults on a business school and villages and a repelled night-time raid by hundreds of fighters on the biggest military base in northeast Nigeria.
Also Saturday, some militants attacked villages and the town of Sabongari Yandulam in northeast Yobe state, a survivor, farmer James Musa, said Monday. Local official Maina Ularamu confirmed the attack and said one man was killed and six women abducted.
Olukolade and other Nigerian officials had said Boko Haram's main fighting force was trapped in the vast Sambisa Forest following a 14-week multinational offensive that drove them out of dozens of towns and villages where they had declared an Islamic caliphate. But some must have escaped to press last week's attack on Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri, the biggest northeastern city, 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the forest.
The forest offensive had destroyed some 20 other camps and allowed soldiers to free about 700 captured girls and women before getting bogged down by land mines and other booby traps, soldiers told The Associated Press. They insisted on anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters.
"The operation to clear the terrorists in Sambisa and other forests is continuing, as troops in all fronts have been alerted to be on the lookout for fleeing terrorists," Olukolade said. "The Nigerian air force is maintaining an active air surveillance to track the movement of terrorists."
During the government offensive, there has been no word on the fate of boys and young men kidnapped by Boko Haram.
The Defense Ministry has made no comment about the latest Boko Haram surge, which has killed at least 60 civilians in the past 10 days.