Nigeria: Boko Haram releases 82 of Chibok schoolgirls in prisoner swap deal - Pakistan News Digest

Nigeria: Boko Haram releases 82 of Chibok schoolgirls in prisoner swap deal

Abuja � Boko Haram has released 82 of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the militant group more than three years ago.

The office of the Nigerian President said on Saturday that it had secured the freedom of 82 schoolgirls in a prisoner swap deal with Boko Haram militants. The presidency announced that months of talks with the militants had "yielded results", just over six months after 21 of their classmates were freed with the help of international mediators.

"Today 82 more Chibok girls were released," it said, adding that "after lengthy negotiations, our security agencies have taken back these girls, in exchange for some Boko Haram suspects held by the authorities."

The girls were to be taken to Abuja on Sunday to meet President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidency said, thanking security agencies, the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

"The president has repeatedly expressed his total commitment towards ensuring the safe return of the Chibok girls and all other Boko Haram captives," said the presidency.

A military and a civilian militia source in Banki, near the border with Cameroon, said "at least 80" girls were brought to the town late afternoon on Saturday and taken to military barracks.

Shehu Sani, a Nigerian senator who has been involved in previous negotiations with Boko Haram, told AFP the girls were mostly "in good condition".

The talks lasted for "almost three to four months" and had initially discussed the release of 50 girls but the number was later increased, he said.

The government would now look to securing the release of the remaining hostages, he added.

Boko Haram militants stormed the public Girls' Secondary School in the remote town of Chibok on 14 April 2014 and kidnapped 276 schoolgirls who were preparing to sit high school exams. Fifty-seven managed to escape in the hours that followed but the remaining 219 were held by the group.

The release of the 21 girls in October last year followed talks between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government brokered by the ICRC and the Swiss government.

Source: International Islamic News Agency


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