The Nigerian army says it has freed over 5,000 people held hostage by Boko Haram during an operation conducted on June 25, in the north-eastern of the country.

Six militants killed and several others wounded, said the army spokesperson, Col. Sani Usman.

Yet local media and NGOs have not been able to independently verify or confirm this claim.

Joint military operations by the Nigerian army and neighbouring troops have led to the liberation of huge portions of territory occupied by Boko Haram, though the radical Islamist group continue to carry out deadly suicide attacks.

The seven years’ insurgency has caused the death of over 20,000 people with 2 million others displaced. This situation has created a catastrophic humanitarian disaster in the region. Nearly 200 refugees have starved to death over the past month in Bama, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says.

“This is the first time MSF has been able to access Bama, but we already know the needs of the people there are beyond critical,” said Ghada Hatim, its head in Nigeria.

“We are treating malnourished children in medical facilities in Maiduguri and see the trauma on the faces of our patients who have witnessed and survived many horrors,” he said.

According to MSF, some 24,000 people, including 15,000 children (among them 4,500 under five years of age) are in dire health.

Premium Times, BBC