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Chibok Girls' Release: PPA Chieftain Hails Buhari, Others

21 May 2017

Chibok school girls recently freed from Boko Haram captivity are seen in Abuja, Nigeria, Sunday, May 7, 2017.

Scores of Nigerian schoolgirls who were among more than 200 kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 have been released, officials have said, with unconfirmed reports that at least 80 have been freed.

He announced that President Buhari also commended the nation's security agencies for their efforts in ensuring the release of the girls.

"As a mediator, it is not part of my mandate to force them (to return home)", he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in the capital Abuja.

"After lengthy negotiations, our security agencies have taken back these girls, in exchange for some Boko Haram suspects held by the authorities", said Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Though Boko Haram has abducted thousands of people during its eight-year insurgency that has spilled across Nigeria's borders, the Chibok mass kidnapping in 2014 horrified the world and brought the extremist group worldwide attention.

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Human-rights advocates also fear some of the girls kidnapped from the Chibok boarding school were used by Boko Haram to carry out suicide bombings.

About 21 Chibok were released in October in a deal brokered by Switzerland and the International Red Cross, while a handful of others have escaped or been rescued.

The mass abduction three years ago caused an global outcry and led to the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign championed by then-first lady Michelle Obama. The government would now look to secure the release of the remaining hostages, he added.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, had, earlier in the day, received the girls at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on behalf of the President.

A statement by the Bring Back Our Girls group on Sunday says the campaign is still waiting for a list of the names of the 82 girls released.

There was no word on how many Boko Haram suspects had been exchanged.

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The next kidnapped girl wasn't found until May 2016, when she wandered out of a Nigerian forest asking for help, according to witnesses.

The girls were brought back to the town in ICRC vehicles late on Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Buhari stated this Sunday when he hosted the girls in his official residence at Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

With the 82 released on Saturday, the tally of the girls who have regained their freedom comes to 163, leaving 113 still with their captors, according to figure provided by the #BringBackOurGirls' movement.

A total of 113 Chibok girls are now missing, although Shekau claimed last August that some had been killed in military air strikes.

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