Fac­tion ready to free 83 more Chi­bok girls

State says it is pre­pared to ne­go­ti­ate with the Boko Haram branch

The Star (Kenya) - - News World -

REUTERS/ The Is­lamic State-al­lied fac­tion of Boko Haram, which last week freed 21 of more than 200 Chi­bok girls kid­napped in April 2014 in north­east Nige­ria, is will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate the re­lease of 83 more of the girls, the pres­i­dent’s spokesman said on Sun­day.

Around 220 girls were taken from their school in 2014 in Chi­bok in north­east­ern Borno state, where Boko Haram has waged a seven-year in­sur­gency aimed at cre­at­ing a state, killing thousands and dis­plac­ing more than two mil­lion peo­ple.

A fac­tion of the mil­i­tant group re- leased 21 of the girls on Thurs­day af­ter the Red Cross and the Swiss gov­ern­ment bro­kered a deal. They were brought from the north­east­ern city of Maiduguri to the cap­i­tal Abuja to meet state of­fi­cials.

“These 21 re­leased girls are sup­posed to be tale bear­ers to tell the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment that this fac­tion of Boko Haram has 83 more Chi­bok girls,” Garba Shehu, spokesman for Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari, told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion on the phone.

“The fac­tion said it is ready to ne­go­ti­ate if the gov­ern­ment is will­ing to sit down with them,” Shehu said. He said the state is pre­pared to ne­go­ti­ate with the branch of Boko Haram.

The Is­lamic State-al­lied splin­ter group said the rest of the kid­napped Chi­bok girls are with the part of Boko Haram un­der the con­trol of fig­ure­head Abubakar Shekau, ac­cord­ing to Shehu.

Boko Haram has ap­par­ently split with a big group mov­ing away from Shekau over his fail­ure to ad­here to guid­ance from the Iraq and Syria-based Is­lamic State, which in Au­gust named Musab al Bar­nawi as its new leader for West Africa.

/REUTERS

Nige­ria’s Vice Pres­i­dent Yemi Os­in­bajo meets some of the 21 Chi­bok school­girls re­leased by Boko Haram mil­i­tants in Abuja on Thurs­day last week

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