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    [Full Details & Video] Nigeria Government Says 21 Chibok Girls Released by Boko Haram

    Nigeria's government said Thursday that 21 of the schoolgirls whose abduction triggered the #BringBackOurGirls campaign have been released after more than two years in captivity by Boko Haram.

     The liberation of the so-called "Chibok girls" came after negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram, according to Nigerian government spokesman Mallam Garba Shehu.

    "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," Shehu said on Twitter, referring to an estimated death toll resulting from Boko Haram's years-long campaign in the country.
    The girls' release was first confirmed to NBC News earlier Thursday in an email from Nigerian government spokesman Femi Adesina.

    According to Shehu, the negotiations were brokered by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross. However, a spokeswoman for the ICRC denied this, telling NBC News that the organization was not in fact involved in the negotiations and declining to comment further.

    Shehu did not say whether Boko Haram received anything in return for the girls' release.

    The group of 21 is part of more than 200 girls whose mass kidnapping from their school in April 2014 sparked international outrage.

    The campaign to find the Chibok girls, as they came to be known, was led under the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag and was backed by Michelle Obama, Rihanna and Ellen DeGeneres.

    Map showing the location of Chibok, Nigeria. Google Maps
    In May this year, one of these girls was found in Nigeria's Sambisa Forest, the army and #BringBackOurGirls campaigners said. A day later, the army said another girl had been found, but the campaign organization later said she was not among the original Chibok group.

    Human rights organizations estimate some 2,000 people have been kidnapped during Boko Haram's insurgency.


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