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Boko Haram releases 76 abducted girls, warns residents to not ever put their daughters in school again

The schoolgirls were returned to Dapchi by Boko Haram early Wednesday morning following negotiations between the Nigerian government and the militant group.

world Updated: Mar 21, 2018 18:24 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Abuja
Boko Haram,Dapchi,Boko Haram girls released
The classroom of the Government Girls Technical College at Dapchi town in northern Nigerian wore a deserted look after Boko Haram Islamists kidnapped 110 schoolgirls on February 28. (AFP File Photo)

Boko Haram jihadists have released 76 of the 110 schoolgirls who were abducted from the northeastern town of Dapchi in February, the government said in a statement on Wednesday.

Information minister Lai Mohammed said “the 76 are those who have been documented”, adding that the release of the abducted students “is ongoing”.

He also said no ransom was paid for the release of the schoolgirls.

“No ransom was paid to them to effect this release. The only condition they gave us is not to release (the girls) to the military but release them in the town of Dapchi without the military presence,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed told Reuters in Abuja.

The schoolgirls were returned to Dapchi by Boko Haram early Wednesday morning following negotiations between the Nigerian government and the militant group.

“The girls were released around 3am through back-channel efforts and with the help of some friends of the country,” said Mohammed, without elaborating.

The number of freed girls may increase “because the girls were not handed over to anyone but dropped off in Dapchi,” he said.

The fighters rolled into town around 3am in nine vehicles and the girls were left in the center of town. As terrified residents emerged from their homes, the extremists said “this is a warning to you all,” resident Ba’ana Musa told The Associated Press.

“We did it out of pity. And don’t ever put your daughters in school again,” the extremists told the residents of Dapchi. Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language.

The Dapchi kidnapping on February 19 conjured painful memories of a similar abduction in Chibok in April 2014, when more than 200 girls were taken.

That brought Boko Haram -- whose name translates from Hausa as “Western education is forbidden” -- worldwide notoriety at a time when it controlled swathes of territory in Nigeria’s northeast.

Boko Haram is increasingly using kidnapping as a means to fund their operations in Nigeria and the remote Lake Chad region.

The jihadist uprising has claimed some 20,000 lives and forced at least 2.6 million to flee their homes since 2009.

First Published: Mar 21, 2018 16:19 IST