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Nigerian President Meets With Freed Girls, Vows To Aid Reintegration


Some newly released Chibok girls meet with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (center) in Abuja on May 7.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has met with the 82 Chibok schoolgirls freed from three years of captivity with Boko Haram Islamic extremists.

Photos tweeted by Buhari showed dozens of the girls at the president’s official residence on May 7, a day after his government secured their release in exchange for detained Boko Haram suspects.

Buhari, 74, then announced he was leaving the country for further medical checks in London.

Buhari spent about six weeks on medical leave earlier this year, although the exact nature of his illness has never been made public.

After the meeting with the schoolgirls, presidential adviser Femi Adesina said Buhari "promised that all that is needed to be done to reintegrate them into the society will be done."

Adesina said government officials will supervise their reentry into society.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which helped negotiate the girls' release in conjunction with the Swiss government, said they would be reunited with their families soon.

The Nigerian government did not give details about the exchange, but an official who spoke on condition of anonymity said five Boko Haram commanders were released in exchange for the girls.

The girls were among as many as 276 female students kidnapped by the Al-Qaeda-linked extremist group in April 2014 from a government secondary school in the town of Chibok in northern Nigeria's Borno State.

Fifty-seven of the girls managed to escape in the months that followed the mass abduction.

Another 21 girls were freed in October 2016 and by January 2017, several others managed to escape.

Chibok is primarily a Christian village, and the girls who were not Muslim were forced to convert to Islam.

The kidnapping victims -- some as young as 9 years old -- reportedly were forced into marriage with Boko Haram militants. Many were thought to have been taken to neighboring Chad and Cameroon.

Human rights advocates have said they fear some of the girls have been forced by Boko Haram to carry out suicide bombings.

Despite the latest release, 113 of the young girls are still missing.

Some parents of the kidnapped girls gathered in Abuja to celebrate the latest release, while many expressed fears over the fate of those still missing.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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