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Nigeria: 21 Chibok schoolgirls freed by Boko Haram

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Nigeria: 21 Chibok schoolgirls freed by Boko Haram


Twenty one schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists more than two years ago in northern Nigeria have been freed.

The country’s presidency said their liberation was the outcome of negotiations between the administration and Boko Haram brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government.

Around 270 girls were taken from their school in Chibok in April 2014, prompting global outrage and the campaign #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG), spearheaded by figures such as US first lady Michelle Obama.

Dozens of the girls escaped immediately but over 200 are still missing.

There are mixed reports about whether any prisoner swap was made in return for their release.

The Nigerian presidency gave no details on the deal, saying only that the 21 girls were very tired and would first rest in the custody of the national security agency.

Afterwards they would be handed over to Vice President Yemi Obinsajo, the statement said.

President Muhammadu Buhari is travelling to Germany today but welcomed the release on Twitter before setting off.

Authorities said in May that one of the missing girls had been found and President Buhari vowed to rescue the others. In the last few months he has said his government was prepared to negotiate with Boko Haram over the release of the girls.

Boko Haram’s seven-year insurgency to create an Islamic state in the northeast has led to the deaths of 15,000 people and displaced more than two million.

The Nigerian military has been carrying out a large-scale offensive in the Sambisa forest, Boko Haram’s stronghold, in the last few days.

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