Nigeria says 21 abducted Chibok schoolgirls freed in swap

Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from their school two years ago triggering the campaign #bringbackourgirls.

Twenty-one of Nigeria's Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram more than two years ago have been freed in a swap for detained leaders of the Islamic extremist group, the government and military said Thursday. Some 197 girls remain captive, though it is not known how many of them may have died. The freed girls, the first to be released as a result of government action, are in the custody of the Department of State Services, Nigeria's secret intelligence agency, according to presidential spokesman Garba Shehu. The government "wants the girls to have some rest, with all of them very tired coming out of the process," Shehu said.

The release of the girls ... is an outcome of negotiations between the administration and the Boko Haram brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government. The negotiations will continue.

Garba Shehu, Nigerian presidential spokesman

All but three of the schoolgirls were carrying babies, an aid worker who saw the girls in Maiduguri told the Associated Press. Many Boko Haram captives recently freed by military action have been shunned by their communities because they have come home pregnant or with babies. The abduction of 276 schoolgirls in April 2014 from a school in Chibok and the government's failure to quickly free them have caused international outrage and brought Boko Haram, Nigeria's homegrown Islamic extremist group, to the world's attention. Dozens of the girls escaped on their own, but most remain missing. Negotiations may have been complicated by a leadership struggle within Boko Haram, where the Islamic State group has named a new leader to replace Abubakar Shekau, who insists he is still in charge.

We thank the federal government, and, like Oliver Twist, we ask for more.

Professor Hauwa Biu, an activist in Maiduguri
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Boko Haram

The extremists have attacked many schools and kidnapped many thousands of girls and boys during their 7-year insurgency that has killed more than 20,000 people, according to Amnesty International. In Thursday's statement, Nigerian presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said that more than 30,000 Nigerians have been killed "via terrorism." Some 2.6 million people have been driven from their homes by the insurgency, and the United Nations has warned that tens of thousands face famine-like conditions.

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A staggering hunger crisis is unfolding in Nigeria, and the world is barely aware

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The Washington Post