Seventy-six out of the 110 schoolgirls kidnapped from the town of Dapchi in February by Nigerian Islamist militant group, Boko Haram have been released. The militant group came with the girls in a motorcade and dropped them off in the community, a parent, Kundili Bukar told the BBC.
He said the militants left right after, adding that some of the girls looked very weak and tired. There are however suspicions that five of them had died. It is currently unclear if the Nigerian government paid any ransom to get the girls released.
Their release comes just days after assurance from the Defence Minister Mansur Dan Ali that the girls would return in at most two weeks.
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“It can be earlier; maybe a week, it can be two weeks, but we are on it, and I’m telling you with all sense of sincerity that we are closing in on them,” he told a local media Channels TV programme, Sunrise, adding that “I’m sure with the latest intelligence information we are getting, we shall get the girls soonest.”
There was a military option to bring back these girls by force but the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari was not interested. He recently indicated that Nigeria was working with international organizations and negotiators, to ensure that the girls were brought back unharmed.
“We are trying to be careful. It is better to get our daughters back alive,” Buhari said as quoted by local media PM News. He disclosed this when he received the American Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, in an audience at State House, Abuja, earlier this month.
But the recent assurance by the state that the girls would come back home in two weeks raised suspicions of some political opponents. According to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the Minister’s assurance shows that the government knows the whereabouts of the girls.