Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Girls meet Nigerian president after Boko Haram release

They will meet Buhari at the presidential villa.

Across section of those interviewed by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Chibok, specifically commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the gesture.

The departure of Nigeria's president for more medical checkups in London is renewing fears for his health in Africa's most populous country.

Nigerians take part in a protest demanding for the release of secondary school girls abducted from the remote village of Chibok, in Asokoro, Abuja, on May 13, 2014.

But AFP understands at least three suspected senior commanders, all of them Chadian nationals, were handed over.

No details were given about how many suspects were released or their identities.

The girls arrived from the northeastern town of Banki, on the border with Cameroon, and were met at the airport by Buhari's chief of staff Abba Kyari. Some of the girls brought babies fathered by the militants.

The government's statement thanked the government of Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross for their role in the operation.

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Numerous students wore colourful akara print dresses, visibly exhausted from their ordeal.

The newly freed schoolgirls should be quickly released to their families and not be subjected to lengthy government detention, Amnesty International's Nigeria office said, adding that they don't deserve to be put through a "publicity stunt" and deserve privacy.

Authorities say 113 of the 276 girls abducted from their boarding school back in 2014 remain missing.

Fifty-seven managed to escape in the hours that followed but the remaining 219 were held by the group.

The Nigerian government has claimed that Boko Haram has been defeated, but the armed group continues to stage attacks in the northeast, often using child suicide bombers.

The mass abduction three years ago caused an worldwide outcry and led to the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign championed by then-first lady Michelle Obama. But after three years in captivity, the situation has become complicated and there may be brainwashing involved.

"Sincerely speaking I am overwhelmed, this is the kind of information that we have long waited for. I hope and pray that my daughter is among these released girls". Two others walked into freedom on their own, making 105 girls out of the Boko Haram clutches.

Boko Haram, which has pledged loyalty to Islamic State, has kidnapped hundreds of men, women and children in its campaign to carve out a medieval Islamist caliphate. In Damasak, on the Nigeria-Niger border, about 500 children are still missing, but they have received nearly no attention within Nigeria or internationally. Most are still missing.

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