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Dozens of Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted by the Boko Haram Takfiri terror group from the northeastern town of Chibok in 2014 have been released.
“I can confirm they have been released,” said a government minister on condition of anonymity on Saturday, adding that an official statement would be released shortly.
“The girls were released through negotiations with the government,” said another official.
Several sources put the number of released girls at around 80 while others claim some 60 were freed by the terrorists.
“The girls are now lodged in the military barracks and will be flown to (the Borno state capital) Maiduguri tomorrow (Sunday),” a military source was quoted as saying.
More than 20 girls were freed last October in a deal negotiated by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Since then, several others have managed to escape or been rescued, but 195 were thought to be still in the hands of the terrorists.
The militants abducted 276 girls from their secondary school in the northeastern town in April 2014. Fifty-seven of the girls managed to escape, but nearly 220 others are still missing and international efforts to spot and rescue them have so far failed.
In August, Boko Haram released a video purportedly showing some of the girls and demanding the release of comrades in exchange for the freedom of the abductees. A masked member of the group speaking in the footage claimed some of the girls were still alive, and that the others had been killed in airstrikes carried out by the Nigerian air force on the Boko Haram hideout.