82 school­girls freed in swap with Boko Haram de­tainees

New Straits Times - - World -

MAIDUGURI: Eighty-two Chi­bok school­girls seized three years ago by Boko Haram have been freed in ex­change for de­tained sus­pects with the ex­trem­ist group, Nige­ria’s govern­ment an­nounced yes­ter­day, in the largest re­lease ne­go­ti­ated yet in the bat­tle to save nearly 300 girls whose mass ab­duc­tion ex­posed the mount­ing threat posed by the Is­lamic State-linked fight­ers.

The state­ment from the of­fice of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari was the first con­fir­ma­tion that his govern­ment had made a swap for the girls.

Af­ter an ini­tial re­lease of 21 Chi­bok girls in Oc­to­ber, the govern­ment de­nied mak­ing an ex­change or pay­ing ran­som.

The April 2014 ab­duc­tion by Boko Haram brought the ex­trem­ist group’s ram­page in north­ern Nige­ria to world at­ten­tion and, for fam­i­lies of the school­girls, be­gan years marked with heart­break. AP

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