Nigeria's army said late on Sunday that it rescued 178 people held by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria's Borno state, the heartland of the insurgency.
Spokesman Colonel Tukur Gusau said in an emailed statement that 101 of the those freed were children, 67 were women and the rest were men. He added that a Boko Haram commander had also been captured and several militant camps were cleared around the town of Bama, about 70 km southeast of the state capital Maiduguri.
has been waging a six-year insurgency in the northeast of Africa
's biggest economy in an attempt to establish an Islamist
state adhering to strict sharia law.
's airforce also said that it helped ground troops repel an attack by Boko Haram
around the village of Bitta
on the southern edge of the Sambisa forest reserve, a stronghold of the militant group. Bitta
is also west of Gwoza, a town near the Cameroonian border that was believed to be the militants' headquarters until a major offensive was launched earlier this year by combined Nigeria
, Nigerien and Chadian forces.