Boko Haram brings back kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

Boko Haram returns some of the girls it kidnapped last month

UPDATE 1-Some abducted schoolgirls returned to Nigeria's Dapchi - witnesses

Boko Haram extremists returned most of the 110 girls they kidnapped a month ago from their school in northeastern Nigeria, the Nigerian government said Wednesday.

Dapchi resident Muhammad Bursari said his niece Hadiza Muhammed, another of the freed girls, told him the remaining student was still in captivity because she had refused to convert to Islam.

The government had earlier confirmed 76 of them released early Wednesday.

The girls were released "through back-channel efforts and with the help of some friends of the country, and it was unconditional", Information Minister Lai Mohammed told journalists in the capital, Abuja.

"What I can confirm today is that these girls were released yesterday, but on the conditions, number one is that they were released unconditionally; no money changed hands".

"As a first step towards meeting its responsibility of protecting civilians from Boko Haram attacks, the results of the two investigations into the Chibok girls' abduction in 2014 must be made public".

Boko Haram militants abducted 276 girls, and about 100 of them have never returned. Mohammed Mdada claimed the militants had apologised to the girls' parents, and explained to them that they had targeted them because they mistook them to be Christians.

A girl released by Boko Haram walks with her father (L) in Dapchi on March 21, 2018.

"They dropped the girls at the centre of town, near Ali's tea shop".

Bashir Manzo, who heads a parents' support group said: "The girls have been brought back".

"Their abductors brought them, dropped them outside the school and left, without talking to anyone".

Five girls are reported to have died, though this has not yet been addressed in statements from the authorities.

"We need to be very proactive in this case because the idea of sitting down to always negotiating and paying ransom with this action, we are empowering the Boko- Haram so that they would continue to do more", he added.

Many parents were reunited with their daughters on Wednesday.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International on Monday blamed the Nigerian security forces for failing to act on warnings about a convoy of Boko Haram fighters heading towards Dapchi. The Nigerian military has dismissed the report as a "falsehood".

Fatima Gremah, 13, who was among those released, told reporters: "Boko Haram said we were lucky we were young and also Muslims".

Umar Hassan, a resident in Dapchi town, said many fled upon hearing that Boko Haram insurgents were headed into the town again.

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