Boko Haram militants have released dozens of schoolgirls out of a group of more than 200 whom they kidnapped from the northeastern town of Chibok in April 2014, officials said on Saturday.
A government minister, asking not to be named, said 82 girls had been released. Unconfirmed reports on social media put the number of freed girls at between 50 and 62.
“The girls were released through negotiations with the government,” one official said, asking not to be named, adding that an official statement would follow shortly.
A military source said the girls were currently in Banki near the Cameroon border for medical checks before being airlifted to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
The kidnapping was one of the high-profile incidents of Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast, now in its eighth year and with little sign of ending. About 220 were abducted from their school in a nighttime attack.
More than 20 girls were released last October in a deal brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Others have escaped or been rescued, but 195 were believed to be still in captivity before this release.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said last month that the government was in talks to secure the release of the remaining captives.
But, the is yet to confirm the development as of Saturday night, saying frantic efforts were still being made to authenticate the development.
Nigerian armed forces had in the recent times stepped up military engagements with the terrorists in Sambisa forest believed to be the den of the insurgents. The battle successfully led to the fall of the forest.
Similarly, negotiations with the terrorist group last year also led to the rescue of over 20 of the girls even with fresh anxiety on the fate of the rest of them. But with the release of more 80 girls, hopes had come alive that they were still alive.
………….More details on the development will follow