Twenty one Nigerian school girls abducted by extremist group Boko Haram in 2014 have been released on Thursday morning, the government officials revealed.
According to Mallam Garba Shehu, the spokesperson of President Muhammadu Buhari, the twenty one of the 218 missing girls were rescued by a military helicopter and transported to the state capital, Maiduguri, Los Angeles Times reported.
Officials said the release of these girls is an outcome of negotiations with the militant group, brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government.
Shehu said in his twitter account: “The president welcomes the release of the girls but cautioned Nigerians to be mindful of the fact that more than 30,000 fellow citizens were killed by terrorism.”
He said the released girls are currently in the custody of the Department of State Services. The names of the released girls will be announced shortly, he added.
The Nigerian extremist group kidnapped around 270 girls from their school in Chibok in northern Nigeria in April 2014. As many as 57 girls were escaped the day itself, while the remaining 219 were taken into the Sambisa forest by gunmen. More than 200 are still missing.
According to media reports, few of the abducted are believed to have been killed in strikes carried out be Nigerian Airforce on militants’ positions. Many believe that the girls would have been forced into marriage with Boko Haram fighters.
Earlier, in a video released by the militant group, its leader Abubakar Shekau, announced that the girls were ‘slaves’ and demanded the release of Boko Haram fighters in exchange.
The Chibok mass kidnapping is considered to be the second largest of this kind after Damasak mass abduction in 2014, where at least 400 people, mostly schoolchildren, were kidnapped.