“Indescribable joy”: 82 schoolgirls kidnapped three years ago by terror group Boko Haram are freed

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Anna Pollitt
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More than 80 of the Chibok schoolgirls captured by Boko Haram three years ago have been freed in exchange for five of the terror group’s leaders.

The young women arrived in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Sunday and were met by their families and president Muhammadu Buhar, who said: “No human being should go through this kind of ordeal.”

Shehu Sani, a Nigerian senator, confirmed that two of the girls had injuries, with one suffering a broken wrist and the other walking on crutches.

More than 50 of the 276 girls kidnapped from their school in 2014 girls managed to flee the group and last year, 21 were released. They are still living in Abuja, 500 miles away from their homes, as they receive counselling for their ordeals, The Guardian reports.

The release of another 82 young women over the weekend was hailed as a moment of “indescribable joy” by #BringBackOurGirls campaigner Oby Ezekwesili, the FT reports. But she says she will not rest until the remaining 113 captive girls are free.

The release of a relatively large number of girls raises the prospect that Boko Haram is weakening. 

Analyst Ryan Cummings told The Guardian the addition of five members is unlikely to bolster the group: “Boko Haram is massively decentralised and is more an umbrella movement than a monolithic movement. Commanders could have a localised impact in areas that they return to but it will have no wider impact.”

Last month, one victim of the group kidnapping told of how she twice escaped her captors. Patience Ibrahim, who was pregnant when she was taken and went on to give birth to a daughter, was the first kidnapped girl to testify about her mistreatment.

She recalls tales of rape, beatings and even cannibalism endured by her and her fellow prisoners in her new book, A Gift from Darkness. Read an extract here.

Images: Rex Features


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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant.