One of more than 270 Christian schoolgirls missing for over two years since being kidnapped by Boko Haram militants has been found wandering in Sambisa Forest along with her ten- month-old baby.
According to CNN, Maryam Ali Maiyanga was among hundreds of Christian females abducted by Boko Haram from the Chibok State Secondary School in northeast Nigeria in 2014. The mass kidnapping shocked the world and sparked the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
Maryam was reportedly found by soldiers screening escapees from Boko Haram's base in the Sambisa forest on Saturday morning, and was carrying a 10-month-old baby boy she named Ali when the soldiers found her.
"This morning as part of the operation we've been conducting, we rescued one of the Chibok girls. ... Our troops in Pulka rescued her along with a Boko Haram member," Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor said at a press briefing Saturday.
"And of course, the baby, you can see with her, is a 10-month-old baby."
Bring Back our Girls, campaigning for the release of Chibok school girls, stated Maryam was number 198 on its register of the kidnapped girls and comes from Askira Uba, and was abducted along with her twin - who is yet to return. Maryam and her child are currently at the unit's medical facility for proper medical check-up, Irabor said.
In October, 21 girls were released by Boko Haram following negotiations with the government, and in May, another girl, Amina Ali Nkeki was found in the Sambisa Forest, close to the border with Cameroon. Another 57 are believed to have immediately escaped the clutches of the terrorist group. Currently, approximately 230 girls remain missing, and the Nigerian government last month indicated it was negotiating with the terror group for the release of about 83 more girls.
In August, Amina Ali told Reuters that many her classmates were starved and resorted to eating raw maize, and that some had died in captivity, suffered broken legs or gone deaf after being too close to explosions According to CNN, other girls have either been married off or become radicalized and don't want to leave their Boko Haram kidnappers.
"I think about them a lot - I would tell them to be hopeful and prayerful," Ali said. "In the same way God rescued me, he will also rescue them."
She added, "I am not scared of Boko Haram - they are not my God."
Established in 2002, Boko Haram initially focused on opposing Western-style education. However, in recent years, the terrorist group became more radical, carried out more killings and swore allegiance to ISIS in March 2015. Today, Boko Haram refers to itself as IS' "West African province".
Over the past seven years, the group has killed more than 20,000 people and drove more than 2.2 million from their homes in an effort to set up an Islamic state in the north.