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82 Chibok School Girls Released In Nigeria

A group of 82 girls held captive for three years by Islamist militants met Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in the capital Abuja on Sunday a day after they were released in exchange for several militant commanders, officials said. The girls were among a group of 270 schoolgirls kidnapped in April 2014 by the militant group Boko Haram, which has waged an eight-year-old insurgency to create an Islamist state, killing thousands and forcing more than two million from their homes.

The government secured the release with mediation by the International Committee of the Red Cross. A military source said three Boko Haram commanders had been freed in an exchange, but declined to give further details.

The military source said the girls had been flown from Banki near the border with Cameroon to Maiduguri and then Abuja, where they first got a medical checkup at a police hospital before being driven in two buses to the presidential villa.Their meeting with the president apparently took place before they were reunited with their parents and relatives.

Their release was a boost for Buhari, a former military ruler who made crushing Boko Haram a pillar of his election campaign in 2015. Buhari, 74, has made few public appearances since returning from Britain in March for medical treatment.

Although the kidnapping of the Chibok girls caught global attention, Boko Haram, which has pledged loyalty to Islamic State, has kidnapped thousands of adults and children. The army has retaken much of the territory initially lost to Boko Haram, but large parts of the northeast, particularly in Borno state, remain under threat from the militants. Suicide bombings and gun attacks have increased in the region since the end of the rainy season late last year.

They will be transferred to the capital, Abuja, where they will have medical checks and be reunited with their families.

 

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