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62 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram freed

Nigerian government source says that 62 pupils seized by Boko Haram fighters in 2014 have been released.

Bring Back Our Girls movement

At least 62 of the nearly 200 schoolgirls who were still missing after a mass Boko Haram abduction in northeast Nigeria in 2014 have been freed, a government official has said.

Earlier reports had suggested that as many as 82 pupils had been released by Boko Haram.

The armed group seized 276 pupils from the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok on the night of April 14, 2014, with 57 of them managing to escape in the immediate aftermath of the abduction.

Some of the schoolgirls have since been released, while others managed to escape.

Before Saturday, more than 80, including 21 whose release was negotiated in October 2016, were free.

"These negotiations have been going on for quite some time, and we were told that they continued after the release of the 21 girls last year - however there were some hiccups," Idris said, citing an escalation in fighting in recent months.

Idris said there were also questions around what the Nigerian government might have given to Boko Haram in return for the schoolgirls.

"A lot of people in Nigeria don't believe that Boko Haram will simply release those girls after three years in captivity for nothing in return," he said.

"We were told that Boko Haram was trying to negotiate for the release of some of their top commanders in custody of the Nigerian security services. There are also some reports suggesting that they want some ransom to be paid for some of these girls."

The abduction of the schoolgirls drew international attention to the armed group, while the Nigerian government's failure to act quickly to free the girls sparked a global Bring Back Our Girls movement.

About 2,000 girls and boys have been abducted by Boko Haram since 2014, with many used as sex slaves, fighters and even suicide bombers, according to Amnesty International.

Some 20,000 people have been killed and about 2.3 million displaced since Boko Haram started its violent campaign in 2009.


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