Twenty-one of the more than 200 girls kidnapped over two years ago in a raid on their school in Chibok by Boko Haram militants have been released, the BBC reports citing a government official.
The Islamist militant group kidnapped more than 250 students from a school in Chibok in April 2014 — an act that provoked international condemnation.
Nigeria’s presidency has confirmed the release of the 21 girls.
“The release of the girls … is the outcome of negotiations between the administration and the Boko Haram brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government,” a presidency statement said. “The negotiations will continue.”
“The president welcomes the release of the girls, but cautioned Nigerians to be mindful of the fact that more than 30,000 fellow citizens were killed via terrorism,” a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari added in a tweet.
The girls were picked up by a military helicopter in the Banki area of north-eastern Borno state, the website Sahara Reporters quoted a government source as saying.
The presidency gave no details on the deal, saying only that the 21 girls were very tired and would first rest in the custody of the national security agency.
Afterwards the girls would be handed over to Vice President Yemi Obinsajo, the statement said.
Boko Haram’s seven-year insurgency to create an Islamic state in the north-east has led to the deaths of 15,000 people and displaced more than two million.
The Nigerian military has been carrying out a large-scale offensive in the Sambisa forest, Boko Haram’s stronghold, in the last few days.