MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Eighty-three Chibok schoolgirls seized three years ago by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria have been released into military custody, authorities said late yesterday, a dramatic development in the mass abduction that brought the extremist group’s rampage to world attention.
Family members said they were eagerly awaiting a list of names and “our hopes and expectations are high.”
It was the second group release of Chibok schoolgirls. Nigeria’s government in October announced that 21 girls had been freed after negotiations with Boko Haram, saying another group of 83 would be released “very soon.” Before yesterday’s release, 195 of the girls had remained captive.
“Huge numbers,” the personal assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, Bashir Ahmad, tweeted late yesterday.
A Nigerian military official with direct knowledge of the rescue operation said the 83 freed girls were found near the town of Banki in Borno state near Cameroon.
The 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok in April 2014 are among thousands of people abducted by Boko Haram over the years.
Many of the kidnapped girls, most of whom were Christians, were forced to marry the Islamic extremists and became pregnant. Human rights advocates believe others could be among the young girls who have been used to carry out suicide bombing attacks.
The group representing the families of the girls said they were awaiting direct confirmation from the government.
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