Militant group Boko Haram has released 21 of the more than 200 Chibok girls on Thursday. Nigerian government said that after a series of negotiations they freed the girls after two years of their kidnapping.
Two years ago almost 270 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok in the northeastern Borno state. The region is under the realm of the militant group for seven years, their objective is to create an ISIS. They already killed thousands and more than 2 million people were displacing.
A source close to the negotiations said that the girls were freed before dawn in the northeastern Nigerian town of Bankri.
Nigerian president’s office report said that a child (20 months old) born to one of the girls was also released.
Information Minister of Nigeria, Lai Mohammed stated, “It’s just a first step in what we believe will lead to the eventual release of all our girls.” He added, “The release of these girls does not mean the end to military operations. But it could mean a new phase in the conduct of the war against terror.”
Today the officials said that their release raised a ray of hope for the release of the others. Local sources told the girls’ release was part of a prisoner swap with the Nigerian government but the authorities were not willing to do a deal with Boko Haram.
According to the local sources, the girls were exchanged for four Boko Haram militants and the militants were brought to Bankri from Maiduguri in a military helicopter. But Mohammed denied the swap. He averred, “It is a release, the product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides.”
Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said that he met with the girls and they were in good health.
Nigerian presidency in a statement said that Boko Haram freed the girls after negotiations with the Nigerian government. The Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) brokered the deal between the Nigerian government and the militant group.
Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Pierre-Alain Eltschinger affirmed, “Switzerland facilitated contacts between representatives of the Nigerian government and intermediaries of Boko Haram on the release of the Chibok girls.”
In 2014, as many as 57 girls were fled but almost 200 girls are still missing. The kidnapping caused a global outrage and the online protest #BringBackOurGirls has started in which US First Lady Michelle Obama also joined.
In August Boko Haram published a video in which it showed recent footage of kidnapped girls and said some of them had been killed during air strikes.
Nigeria’s army with the help of neighboring countries has retrieved most of the territory captured by Boko Haram. But the militants still carries out suicide bombings in the northeast and in neighboring Cameroon and Niger.