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Girls & Women

BREAKING: Abducted Nigerian schoolgirls to be released

Today I’m definitely celebrating! The call to #BringBackOurGirls may finally be answered as Nigeria’s military announces the group of abducted school girls are to be released.

Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram sparked global protests when they kidnapped more than 200 school girls from their secondary school in Chibok, Northern Nigeria, back in April. Loosely translated from the local Hausa language, the name Boko Haram means “western education is forbidden”.

The night that the girls were taken hostage, heavily armed gunmen arrived in trucks and on motorcycles, kidnapped more than 200 of the girls in the dormitory at the school, and set fire to the buildings. The world was outraged, and global protests grew as everybody from Malala Yousafzai to Michelle Obama pleaded for the girls to be returned. But until today, it looked like the girls’ plight had been forgotten.

Malala Yousafzai joined the global plea to #BringBackOurGirls

Today, it has emerged that an agreement has been sealed after a month of negotiations between Nigerian military and Boko Haram. Nigerian presidential aide, Hassan Tukur, reports that Boko Haram had announced a unilateral ceasefire on Thursday, and the government had responded.

Adubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, had previously proclaimed his intentions to sell the abducted girls as ‘slaves’, whilst other girls were reported to have have been forced to marry militants. However, it is said that this week’s negotiations have the leader’s blessing.

Whilst I will save my celebrations until the girls are released alive and well, this is incredibly good news and a huge step forwards. Mr Turkur says ‘they’ve assured us they have the girls and they will release them. I am cautiously optimistic’.

My thoughts remain with the girls and their families, and I hope that this announcement will finally lead to their freedom.

This article will be updated as the story unfolds.

A photograph of the kidnapped girls from a video released by Boko Haram

Zoe Kelland