Nige­ria ne­go­ti­at­ing with Boko Haram for more Chi­bok re­leases

Cape Breton Post - - World -

Nige­ria’s gov­ern­ment is ne­go­ti­at­ing “se­ri­ously” for the re­lease of more than 110 kid­napped Chi­bok school­girls still held by Boko Haram and will ex­change more de­tained mem­bers of the ex­trem­ist group for them if needed, an of­fi­cial said Thurs­day.

“We will not re­lent un­til all are back,” the min­is­ter of women’s af­fairs and so­cial devel­op­ment, Aisha Al­has­san, told re­porters in the cap­i­tal, Abuja.

The mass ab­duc­tion of nearly 300 school­girls from a board­ing school three years ago brought world at­ten­tion to Boko Haram’s deadly ram­page in north­ern Nige­ria. Thou­sands have been kid­napped or killed in the group’s eight-year in­sur­gency, with mil­lions driven from their homes.

On Satur­day, 82 of the Chi­bok school­girls were re­leased. Nige­ria’s gov­ern­ment ex­changed them for five de­tained Boko Haram com­man­ders, ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not per­mit­ted to speak to re­porters on the mat­ter. Ne­go­ti­a­tions with the ex­trem­ist group, me­di­ated by the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross and the Swiss gov­ern­ment, also re­sulted in the Oc­to­ber re­lease of a first group of 21 Chi­bok girls.

Al­has­san said Nige­ria’s gov­ern­ment had no re­grets about ex­chang­ing Boko Haram com­man­ders for the school­girls’ re­lease.

“We’ll do it again if needed,” she said in com­ments tweeted by Nige­ria’s gov­ern­ment.

Fam­i­lies in Chi­bok were meet­ing with com­mu­nity lead­ers to iden­tify the newly freed school­girls from pho­tos to de­ter­mine if they will travel to the cap­i­tal to meet them.

The young women were join­ing those re­leased ear­lier in gov­ern­ment care in Abuja, where they were un­der­go­ing med­i­cal screen­ing that will take a cou­ple of weeks, Al­has­san said. Some must un­dergo surgery, she said.

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