Date
26 July 2017
One of the freed schoolgirls cries while holding her baby as Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo tries to comfort her at his office in Abuja on Thursday. Photo: AFP
One of the freed schoolgirls cries while holding her baby as Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo tries to comfort her at his office in Abuja on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Boko Haram frees 21 schoolgirls in Nigeria

Islamist group Boko Haram has released 21 of the 276 schoolgirls it abducted in the northern Nigerian town of Chibok 2½ years ago.

Negotiations with the militants were brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government, the Wall Street Journal said, citing Nigerian officials.

The girls were abducted by Boko Haram fighters from their boarding school shortly before their final school examinations in April 2014.

Late on Thursday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo received the young women, who had swapped their long robes and veils for traditional Nigerian dresses that revealed their emaciated backs, the Journal said.

The news was greeted with joy and disappointment by families of the abducted girls.

“I know the parents of two of the released girls, Asabe Goni and Saratu Emmanuel. I’m happy even though my daughter is not among the released girls,” the Journal quoted Esther Yakubu as saying.

She said she remained hopeful that further talks with the rebels would lead to the release of her daughter Dorkas and the 196 other girls who are still missing.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed denied reports that the government had swapped Boko Haram fighters for the release of the schoolgirls, adding that he was not aware of any ransom paid, Reuters reported.

The girls’ release came following a massive offensive launched by the Nigerian military in the Sambisa forest, a rebel stronghold, the news agency said.

Last year Boko Haram pledged loyalty to the Islamic State militant group.

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RA/CG

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