MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian officials say 21 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram extremists more than two years ago have been freed.
In this undated image taken from video distributed Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, an alleged Boko Haram soldier standing in front of a group of girls alleged to be some of the 276 abducted Chibok schoolgirls held since April 2014, in an unknown location. Twenty-one of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamic extremists more than two years ago have been freed in negotiations, officials said Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. Some 197 girls remain captive, though it is not known how many of them may have died. (Militant video/Site Institute via AP File)
Presidential spokesman Mallam Garba Shehu tweeted Thursday that the girls are in the custody of Nigeria’s Department of State Services.
He said the release is a result of negotiations between the government and Boko Haram, brokered by the Swiss government and the International Red Cross. He said negotiations will continue.
The abduction of 276 schoolgirls in April 2014 brought international condemnation of Boko Haram, Nigeria’s home-grown Islamic extremist group. Dozens of the girls escaped, but most remain missing.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has said the girls would only be released if the government swaps them for detained extremist leaders.