Sixteen Nigerian soldiers are missing in action after an ambush by suspected Boko Haram militants on Friday in the north-eastern state of Borno, the army said.

The soldiers were returning from an operation in the remote village of Guro Gongon when their vehicle got stuck in mud and came under fire, according to Lucky Irabor, commander of the counterinsurgency force in the northeast. In addition to the 16 missing, 19 soldiers and three members of a youth vigilante group were injured.

Troops rescued 80 women and children being held by militants in Garere village in Borno state, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, an army spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement this week. Tens of thousands of people have died in the seven-year campaign by Boko Haram to impose its version of Shariah, or Islamic law, on Africa’s most populous country.

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