Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari applauds as he welcomes a group of Chibok girls, who were held captive for three years by the millitant group Boko Haram, in Abuja. Picture: Bayo Omoboriowo/Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari applauds as he welcomes a group of Chibok girls, who were held captive for three years by the millitant group Boko Haram, in Abuja. Picture: Bayo Omoboriowo/Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters

10 key facts about Boko Haram and kidnapped Chibok girls

By Thomson Reuters Foundation Time of article published May 8, 2017

Share this article:

Abuja - Boko Haram

militants freed 82 of more than 200 schoolgirls they kidnapped

from the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok in April 2014 in

exchange for prisoners, the government said on Saturday.

Three years ago, the abduction of the girls from their

secondary school by the jihadist group Boko Haram sparked global

outrage and a celebrity-backed campaign #bringbackourgirls.

For more than two years there was no sign of the girls. But

the discovery of one of them with a baby last May raised hopes

for their safety, with a further two girls found in later months

and a group of 21 released by the Islamist militants in October.

Nigeria thanked Switzerland and the International Committee

of the Red Cross - who brokered the October release - for

helping secure the freedom of the 82 girls after "lengthy

negotiations", the presidency said in a statement.

Following this release, 113 of the Chibok girls are believed

to be still in captivity.

Here are 10 key facts about the Chibok girls and Boko Haram

:

* Since 2009, Boko Haram has waged an insurgency to carve

out an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria that has killed at

least 20,000 people and displaced more than two million.

* The most high-profile attack took place on April 14, 2014,

when Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from a secondary

school in Chibok in northeast Borno state. Around 50 of the

girls escaped in the initial melee but 219 were captured.

* Nigeria's government and military, then under the command

of former president Goodluck Jonathan, faced heavy criticism for

their handling of the incident, with towns and cities across the

nation witnessing protests.

* The kidnappings sparked a strong social media reaction,

with the phrase #bringbackourgirls tweeted around 3.3 million

times by mid-May 2014, and the global campaign which followed

backed by then US First Lady Michelle Obama.

* Hope for the girls was briefly raised in April 2015 when

the Nigerian military announced it had rescued 200 girls and 93

women from the Sambisa forest, northeast of Chibok. It was later

revealed that the Chibok girls were not among them.

* One of the Chibok girls, Amina Ali, was rescued in May

2016. Held for months by the Nigerian government, she told her

mother the girls were starved and resorted to eating raw maize,

and that some had died in captivity, suffered broken legs or

gone deaf after being too close to explosions.

* At least 2,000 girls and boys have been kidnapped by Boko

Haram since the beginning of 2014, according to Amnesty

International, which says they are used as cooks, sex slaves,

fighters and even suicide bombers.

* Boko Haram used 27 children to carry out suicide attacks

in West Africa in the first three months this year, almost

surpassing the total of 30 child bombings during 2016, said the

UN children's agency UNICEF.

* The militants split last year with one faction moving away

from the group's established figurehead Abubakar Shekau over his

failure to adhere to guidance from Islamic State to which Boko

Haram pledged allegiance in 2015.

* The group of 21 girls freed in October have since been

held in a secret location in the capital Abuja for assessment,

support and debriefing by the Nigerian government. 

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Share this article: