21 March, 2018
Boko Haram kidnappers have returned almost all the 110 girls they seized from a Nigerian school a month ago. The Islamist militants also gave the town of Dapchi a warning before leaving, witnesses said Wednesday.
The extremists said, "We did it out of pity. And don't ever put your daughters in school again."
The militants and hostages had arrived in nine vehicles. The girls were freed in the center of town.
Nigerian officials say 101 of the students had been freed. They said nine girls are still missing.
Information minister, Lai Mohammed, said no payment was made for the release. He said it happened through, in his words, "the help of some friends of the country." He also said there were no conditions for the release. He said a decision against military "confrontation" was part of the agreement.
Bashir Manzo had a 16-year-old daughter who was among those kidnapped during the February 19 attack. He confirmed that she was among those freed. He said that everyone in Dapchi is very happy right now.
Memories of Chibok
In 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a school in the northern town of Chibok. About 100 of them never returned. Some were forced to marry men in Boko Haram. Many have had children since then.
Many people believe a different Boko Haram group linked to the Islamic State carried out the February kidnapping. The suspected group has criticized the leader of the main Boko Haram organization for targeting civilians. They have directed their attention to military and Western targets instead.
People fled Dapchi Wednesday morning when they heard that Boko Haram vehicles were driving toward the town.
One man, Umar Hassan told the AP, "We fled but, from our hiding, we could see them and surprisingly, we saw our girls getting out of the vehicles."
Another townsperson, Kachallah Musa, said the extremists talked to the girls, and then left without any conflict.
The information minister told reporters that the girls were currently at a hospital in Dapchi.
On Tuesday, Amnesty International accused the Nigerian military of failing to act to prevent the attack last month. The report said the military had received several warnings the attack was coming. The military says the report is untrue.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Haruna Umar and Ismail Alfa Abdulrahim originally wrote this story for the Associated Press. Phil Dierking adapted the story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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Words in This Story
pity – n. a strong feeling of sadness or sympathy for someone or something
confrontation – n. a situation in which people, groups, etc., fight, oppose, or challenge each other in an angry way