ABUJA, Nigeria, May 2 (UPI) -- The Nigerian military on Saturday said it has rescued more than 200 additional women and children from the grasp of terror group Boko Haram -- bringing the total number rescued so far this week to nearly 700, officials said.
Nigeria's defense ministry tweeted word of the latest rescues, which occurred Thursday, on Saturday. The news comes just days after Nigerian forces said they rescued about 200 women and girls this week.
"Another set of 234 women and children were rescued through the Kawuri and Konduga end of the #Sambisa Forest on Thursday," the tweet said.
The latest rescuees were removed from a forested region of northeastern Nigeria, officials said, and are now being evaluated and profiled.
News reports said the first 300 rescuees were delivered to a refugee camp in Nigeria's northeast Saturday evening.
Defense officials said Nigerian troops are continuing their assaults against Boko Haram in the forest with the intention of exterminating their stronghold.
Boko Haram, which is Arabic for 'western education is forbidden,' have abducted about 500 men, women and children since 2009 -- which includes 276 schoolgirls taken in April 2014.
The additional 234 freed, authorities said, bring the week's total to 677 people rescued. The exact number, though, has not been independently confirmed. Some of the females released, officials said, were pregnant.
It was reported that some of the captive women actually fought their rescuers in at least nine separate shootouts in the forest because the terror group used them as armed human shields. Officials are concerned that some of the abducted females might now feel a kinship with Boko Haram after months in captivity and multiple forced marriages to Islamic fighters.
It wasn't immediately clear, however, whether any of the girls rescued Thursday were among those kidnapped last April -- an incident that sparked worldwide outrage and launched the massive #BringBackOurGirls social awareness campaign.
The nation's military operations in the Sambisa Forest have also reportedly destroyed three Boko Haram camps.
Abuja has relentlessly attacked the Sambisa Forest with airstrikes in recent weeks and recently placed ground troops there.
Boko Haram was organized in 2009 by radicals who hoped to create an Islamic State like those which have arisen in Syria and Libya. The group is informally known as the Islamic State in West Africa and is officially titled the Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said the Sambisa Forest is the group's last remaining bastion in the country and that he plans to hand over a government "completely free of terrorist strongholds" when he leaves office at the end of this month.