A group of Chibok girls are seen with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, May 7. The girls were held captive for three years by Boko Haram militants. CNS photo/Bayo Omoboriowo via Reuters

Nigeria exchanges prisoners for 82 Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram

  • May 9, 2017

ABUJA, Nigeria – 82 girls abducted by Boko Haram militants over three years ago have been freed.

The Nigerian government announced the release of the girls, who were among the 300 abducted from the high school in Chibok in April 2014. The mass abduction by the militant Islamist group drew international outcry that adopted the rally cry “Bring Back Our Girls,” focusing attention on the conflict with Boko Haram.

The latest group of freed captives was released in exchange for as many as six suspected militants who were not identified, though some reports say the militants were high-ranking commanders in Boko Haram. There are also rumors of a large ransom paid. 

Parents of missing girls quickly tried to determine if their daughters were among the freed.

Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari, who campaigned on promises to free the girls, met with them in the national capital of Abuja. They had been taken from a northeast town near the Cameroon border, with their release beginning on Sunday morning.

The Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross had worked to help free the captives.

Even with the latest release, the first since 21 were let go six months ago, more than 100 of the kidnapped girls are still missing. Last time 

Boko Haram has begun to focus on suicide bombings, sending dozens of young girls and children as young as seven into crowded areas like markets and camps. It continues to attack military outposts and convoys.

The Nigerian military has successfully destroyed many strongholds of the group, and its leadership has split into factions amid infighting.

Boko Haram militants continue to exist in small groups in Nigeria and across the border with neighboring countries. At the same time, many are undersupplied and suffer from famine-like conditions in the region.

One of the Boko Haram factions is recognized by the Islamic State group. The girls are being held by a different faction, led by Abubakar Shaku.

(Catholic News Agency)

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