More than 60 Nigerian girls and women abducted by Islamic extremists two weeks ago have managed to escape, officials said on Monday.
Nigerian security forces and federal government officials had denied reports of the mass abduction from three villages in the northeast state of Borno on June 22.
Chibok local government chairman Pogu Bitrus said on Monday he had verified that about 60 women and girls escaped on Thursday and Friday by sending a representative who met with some of the escapees and their families at the hospital in Lassa, a town in the neighboring Damboa local government area.
Vigilante leader Abbas Gava in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, said on Sunday that vigilantes in the area told him 63 women and girls managed to get away on Friday while their captors were engaged in a major attack on a military barracks and police headquarters in Damboa town.
Small-scale kidnappings by Boko Haram extremists had been going on for months when they drew international condemnation for the abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls from a school in Chibok town of Borno state on April 15. Some 219 of those girls still are missing.