AFRICAN DIASPORA: 21 seized Chibok girls released
Boko Haram militants return 21 of 276 kidnapped girls to Chibok in northeastern Nigeria By DIANA SANCHEZ CHIBOK, Nigeria (Allafrica) — Rumors abound over the terms of the release of 21 schoolgirls kidnapped from this town in northeastern Borno state,
Boko Haram militants return 21 of 276 kidnapped girls to Chibok in northeastern Nigeria
By DIANA SANCHEZ
CHIBOK, Nigeria (Allafrica) — Rumors abound over the terms of the release of 21 schoolgirls kidnapped from this town in northeastern Borno state, who were handed over to Nigerian authorities last Thursday following a series of negotiations, a spokesperson for the government said.
The 2014 kidnapping prompted global figures such as U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai to support a #BringBackOurGirls campaign on social media.
Officials say they are confident more of the 190 girls still held by Boko Haram will be released soon.
One official said that the girls were released as part of a prisoner swap supervised by the International Committee of the Red Cross. However, a source with knowledge of the negotiations said no captive Boko Haram fighters were released in exchange for the girls.
Most of the Chibok girls freed after more than two years gave birth in captivity, a security official said.
This is the first mass release of any of the 276 girls and women kidnapped from their beds in April 2014 by Boko Haram militants.
The kidnappings spurred global outrage. As many as 57 girls escaped almost immediately, and one was found in May with her 4-month-old baby and suspected militant husband. Almost 200 girls remain unaccounted for after Thursday’s release, CNN reported.
The International Red Cross and the Swiss government brokered the deal between the Islamist militant group and the Nigerian government, Mallam Garba Shehu, government spokesperson, said on Twitter. “Negotiations will continue,” he tweeted.
Gen. Rabe Abubakar, a Defense Ministry spokesperson, said he could not release details of how the girls were retrieved, but the operation to bring them home is ongoing. “We are optimistic we will retrieve more of the Chibok girls from Boko Haram in the coming weeks,” he told The Guardian.
The Nigeria-based #Chibokgirls campaign said in a statement Thursday, “We further urge the international community to continue to support our government’s effort to rescue all other abducted Nigerians, so that parents, the Chibok community, the nation, and the world can finally put an end to this nightmare once and for all.”