Boko Haram frees most of the schoolgirls | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 22, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:31 AM, March 22, 2018

NIGERIA ABDUCTIONS

Boko Haram frees most of the schoolgirls

Boko Haram Islamists who kidnapped 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, northeast Nigeria, just over a month ago have so far returned 101 of the students to the town, the government said yesterday.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the girls were released "unconditionally". "No money changed hands," he told reporters in the capital, Abuja.

He added: "As of now, the number (of girls confirmed to have been released) has increased to 101."

Fatima Gremah, 13, who was among those released, earlier told reporters: "Boko Haram said we were lucky we were young and also Muslims.

"One of us who is a Christian has been left behind. They said they would keep her until she converted.

"If she converts, they will release her. She is the only one among us left behind."

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari said last week the government had "chosen negotiation" to secure the return of the Dapchi girls rather than use military force.

Mohammed had earlier said their release was the result of "back-channel efforts" with the help of "some friends of the country", without elaborating.

Military operations in and around Dapchi had been suspended "to ensure free passage" of the girls and also to ensure "that lives were not lost", he added.

The Dapchi kidnapping on February 19 brought back painful memories of a similar abduction in Chibok in April 2014, when more than 200 girls were taken.

Aisha Alhaji Deri, a 16-year-old student who was among those kidnapped in Dapchi, told reporters they were not mistreated during their time in captivity.

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