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Boko Haram Return Adbucted Dapchi Girls

A month after abducting 110 schoolgirls from a northeast Nigerian boarding school, Boko Haram militants freed almost all of them Wednesday — bringing relief to many families, but raising questions about what triggered the girls’ release.

Lai Mohammed, Information minister, said at a news conference in Abuja that the militants had released 91 girls and one boy around 3 a.m. local time at various spots along a road into the town. A subsequent government report said 101 had been freed.

Mohammed said the girls — kidnapped Feb. 19 from the Government Girls’ School and Technical College in Dapchi — were freed through “back-channel efforts, and with the help of some friends of the country, and it was unconditional.”

“No money changed hands,” he emphasized.

Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari visited Dapchi and assured parents that the girls would be released through negotiations rather than by military force.

Local residents reported the militants drove most of the girls back to Dapchi in a nine-vehicle convoy, dropped them off and left.

“We are freed because we are Muslim girls, and they didn’t want us to suffer. That is why they released us,” Khadija Grema said, according to The Associated Press. The news agency reported that she said a Christian classmate still was detained.

Various news media also were reporting five girls had died. However, the government had blocked roads and journalists’ access to the remote farming town early Wednesday, making it difficult to verify information.

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