Boko haram
Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau said abducted girls converted to Islam and won't be released until Boko haram prisoners are freedYoutube - AFP

The Nigerian Army says it has rescued 293 women from the Sambisa Forest, a known Boko Haram hideout - but they are not the 200 schoolgirls abducted from their school dormitories last year, an army spokesman said.

According to the Defence Headquarters Twitter feed: "Troops this afternoon rescued 200 girls and 93 women from Sambisa Forest.

"Troops captured and destroyed three terrorists camps including the notorious Tokumbere camp in the Sambisa Forest Operation."

"The freed persons are now being screened and profiled. We will bring you details later."

A spokesperson for Save Our Girls told Sky News: "I think that everyone in Nigeria is excited by this news. It's been a long time coming. Whether they are the Chibok girls or not, it shows the continued offensive of the Nigerian army.

"Looking online, there's a lot of positive feedback, lots of positive sentiment, sending prayers out for the troops."

Sambisa Forest is the last Boko Haram hideout where the 219 kidnapped Chibok girls are purportedly being held hostage.

Nigeria's military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade said Boko Haram fighters have been pushed out of all areas of northeast Nigeria, except for Sambisa.

The forest has been pounded by air raids for weeks and ground troops reportedly entered it last week although Olukolade denied reports troops retreated from Sambisa because of land mines.

The armed forces could not immediately confirm if any of the rescued girls were among the 200 schoolgirls the militant group Boko Haram kidnapped in April 2014 from Chibok.

The rescue has been attributed to the new president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari who is due to be sworn in on 29 May.

He has stated that his top priorities are security - crushing Boko Haram and also to bring back the kidnapped Chibok girls.