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Kidnapped Dapchi schoolgirls 'freed in Nigeria'

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A signpost of the Government Girls Science and Technical College is pictured in Dapchi in the northeastern state of Yobe, Nigeria March 3, 2018.Image copyright
Reuters

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The girls were taken from a boarding school in Dapchi, Yobe state, in February

Many of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by militants from the town of Dapchi have returned, according to residents who spoke to the BBC.

People said that many of the 110 schoolgirls were brought back in a vehicle convoy this morning.

The circumstances of their return is still not quite clear, but there are indications five of the girls may have died.

They were taken from the school more than a month ago.

Parent Kundili Bukar told the BBC the militants – believed to be Boko Haram – drove into the town in a motorcade and surrendered the girls to the community.

The militants are said to have left immediately. He said the girls were looking haggard and tired – although some reportedly found the strength to run home to their families after being released.

Another parent, Manuga Lawal, said he had managed to speak to his daughter Aisha, who was among the kidnapped girls, on the phone.

The police chief in Yobe state, Abdulmaliki Sunmonu, would not confirm whether or not the girls had returned, but said he had heard the same reports.

However, a military officer working at a checkpoint near the town told Reuters news agency : “Boko Haram have brought the girls.”

The girls were taken from their school on the evening of Monday, 19 February, by a group of militants who had attacked the town of Dapchi.

Originally, it was claimed many of the girls had escaped and no-one had been kidnapped. But a week later, authorities admitted they were taken by the Islamist militants.

The kidnapping raised uncomfortable parallels with the abduction of the Chibok girls, who were taken from their school in neighbouring Borno state in April 2014.

Some of those girls remain in captivity.

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