Nigerian ground troops have joined an offensive on the last known hideout of the Boko Haram Islamist militants, a military spokesman has told the BBC.

The vast northeastern Sambisa forest is where they have many bases – and it has been subject to aerial bombardments since February.

There has been speculation that some of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped more than a year ago are being held there.

Boko Haram has killed thousands in northern Nigeria since 2009.

Nigeria’s military, backed by troops from neighbouring countries, launched an offensive against Boko Haram in February – and has recaptured most of the territory the militants had taken in the previous year.

But the BBC’s Africa security correspondent Tomi Oladipo says the Sambisa forest is far larger than any other territory that has been fought over in the conflict.

The aerial bombardments on Sambisa, which is mainly in northeastern Borno state, have been slowed down by weather conditions and poor visibility, he says.

Military spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade refused to give any further details about the offensive.

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