Sixty-three women and girls who were abducted by suspected Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria last month escaped their captors and have been reunited with their families, a local vigilante group member said.
The women and girls fled in the early hours of Saturday after their captors left them to carry out an attack on Damboa in the northeastern state of Borno, Hassan Mohammed said by phone. They were among 91 people kidnapped in attacks on the villages of Kumanza, Yaga and Dagu in June.
"We are yet to have the details of their escape, but it is believed that they took the bold step of taking to their heels when the insurgents left the camp in large numbers to attack Damboa on Friday night," Mohammed said from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
Nigerian security forces are struggling to contain a five- year rebellion by Boko Haram, which has killed thousands in its campaign to impose Islamic law on Africa's biggest oil producer.
On June 25, government spokesman Mike Omeri said it was "difficult to confirm" reports of the kidnapping last month. There was nothing "nothing on the ground to prove any act of abduction reported," he told reporters in Abuja, the capital.
Boko Haram is most active in Borno and two other northeastern states where the government has imposed emergency rule since May 2013.
It has also carried out bomb attacks in Abuja and kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in the northeastern town of Chibok in April. Most of them are still missing.
On Saturday, military spokesman Chris Olukolade said the army killed 53 insurgents who attacked military positions in Damboa.
With assistance from Daniel Magnowski in Abuja, Nigeria