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21 Freed Chibok Girls Reunited With Families

  • VOA Staff

One of the freed Chibok girls celebrates with family members during a church service in Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 16, 2016. Twenty-one girls were released Thursday and flown to Abuja, Nigeria's capital, but it's taken days for relatives to arrive.s

One of the freed Chibok girls celebrates with family members during a church service in Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 16, 2016. Twenty-one girls were released Thursday and flown to Abuja, Nigeria's capital, but it's taken days for relatives to arrive.s

A group of Nigerian parents was reunited Sunday with 21 schoolgirls kidnapped by militants more than two years ago.

Nearly 300 girls were taken from their school in 2014 in Chibok in northeastern Borno state, where Boko Haram has waged a seven-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic state, killing thousands and displacing more than 2 million people.

Last week, the rebels released 21 girls in the first negotiated release brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government.

The girls were released Thursday and flown to Abuja, Nigeria's capital, but it took days for the parents to arrive from their remote region.

One of the freed girls was Rebecca Mallam. "I want to thank everyone for this wonderful thing they have done. I never imagined that I would ever see my parents again, but God has helped me see them so I want to say 'thank you' and ‘may God comfort all of us,’" she said.

One of the freed Chibok girls is embraced by a family member during a reunion ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 16, 2016.

One of the freed Chibok girls is embraced by a family member during a reunion ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 16, 2016.

Dozens of schoolgirls escaped in the first few hours after the kidnapping, but after last week's release, 197 remain captive.

The government says negotiations are continuing to win their freedom.

In recent days, the Nigerian military has been carrying out a large-scale offensive in the Sambisa forest, a stronghold of Boko Haram, which last year pledged loyalty to the Islamic State militant group.

Boko Haram controlled a swath of land around the size of Belgium at the start of 2015, but Nigeria's army, aided by troops from neighboring countries, has recaptured most of that territory.

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