ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s president says he will meet Sunday with 82 Chibok schoolgirls freed this weekend after being kidnapped three years ago by Boko Haram.
President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement that he will receive the released schoolgirls in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
The president said the schoolgirls were freed in exchange for detained suspected extremists in the largest negotiated release so far of the nearly 300 girls whose mass abduction in 2014 highlighted the threat of Nigeria’s homegrown extremist fighters who are linked to the Islamic State group.
Before Saturday’s release, 195 of the girls had been captive. Now 113 of the girls remain unaccounted for.
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As news of the latest release broke, long-suffering family members said they are eagerly awaiting a list of names and their “hopes and expectations are high.”
The April 2014 abduction by Boko Haram brought the extremist group’s rampage in northern Nigeria to world attention and began years of worry and heartbreak for the families of the missing schoolgirls.
Some relatives did not live long enough to see their daughters released. Many of the captive girls, most of them Christians, were forced to marry their captors and give birth to children in remote forest hideouts without knowing if they would see their parents again. It is feared that other girls were strapped with explosives and sent on missions as suicide bombers.
A Nigerian military official with direct knowledge of the rescue operation said the freed girls were found near the town of Banki in Borno state near Cameroon.
Boko Haram remains active in that area. On Friday, the United States and Britain issued warnings that the extremist group was actively planning to kidnap foreigners in an area of Borno state “along the Kumshe-Banki axis.”
The 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok in 2014 are among thousands of…