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07 May 2017

Chibok abduction: Boko Haram exchanges 82 girls for its prisoners

The Nigerian government announced that Islamist militant group Boko Haram freed 82 girls kidnapped in 2014 following a lengthy negotiation process.

The release was secured after the government agreed to hand over an unknown number of Boko Haram suspects back to the group.

While the girls are currently under the Nigerian Army's protection, President Muhammadu Buhari is set to welcome them back on Sunday.

In context

Boko Haram in Nigeria: 82 Chibok girls released


What is Boko Haram?

An organization founded in 2002, Boko Haram roughly translates to "Western education is forbidden" in Hausa language.

It launched military-scale operations in Nigeria in 2009 aiming to overthrow the government and was able to seize territory and establish its caliphate in North eastern Nigeria.

Its leader Abubakar Shekau, pledged its allegiance to ISIS in 2015, designating its territory as Islamic State of West Africa.

Boko Haram and abductions

During the course of its eight year long insurgency, thousands of people have been kidnapped by Boko Haram. The abducted Chibok girls were forced to convert to Islam and were married to its fighters. They also have been reported to be subjected to sexual violence.

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What has happened till now?

Boko Haram militants abducted a group of 276 girls, during a raid conducted at a Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok in North eastern Nigeria. While around 50 girls escaped at first instance, 21 were released in October 2016.

President Buhari noted last month that the government remained in constant touch with the militants through negotiations to secure safe release of the girls.

How was the exchange carried out?

How did it happen

How was the exchange carried out?

According to sources from the Nigerian Army, the girls were brought via road convoy to the Banki military base near the Cameroon border, where they are currently under the protection of the Army.

Sources further noted that, two blindfolded men were spotted when a convoy of armed vehicles from Maiduguri, a Boko Haram stronghold traveled to the forest to meet with the girls.


What could happen now?

Nigeria is hopeful that they can bring more than 100 girls back, it does not end Nigeria's troubles with Boko Haram, who are likely to carry on with the same tactics.

The Chibok girls' plight strikingly represents another neglected issue in the African continent, especially when viewed alongside the fight against ISIS, which seems to have hogged all the international attention.

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