Report: Nigeria Reaches Deal With Boko Haram to Release Missing Girls
Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group with ties to al-Qaeda waging war in Nigeria and responsible for the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls, has reportedly reached a ceasefire agreement with the Nigerian government. Discussions between the Nigerian government and the militants have included talks of releasing the girls, who have been in captivity for six months.
"From the discussions, [Boko Haram's representatives] indicated their desire for, and willingness to discuss and resolve all associated issues," Mike Omeri, anti-terrorism spokesman for the Nigerian government, told the Telegraph. "They also assured that the school girls and all other people in their captivity are all alive and well."
Nearly 300 girls were kidnapped by the group in April from the town of Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria. Dozens managed to escape this summer, but more than 200 continue to be held.
Negotiations to have the abducted girls released will take place next week in Ndjamena, Chad, apparently "blessed" by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. More from the BBC:
Many Nigerians are extremely sceptical about the announcement especially as there has been no definitive word from the jihadists.
The military has in the past released statements about the conflict in north-east Nigeria that have turned out to be completely at odds with the situation on the ground.
So many here will only celebrate when the violence stops and the hostages are free.
"They've assured us they have the girls and they will release them," Nigerian presidential aide Hassan Tukur told the BBC. "I am cautiously optimistic."
A Western diplomat in Lagos also casted the reported deal as tenuous, telling the Telegraph that Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan is up re-election next year.
"He's having a tough run with Boko Haram, and he needs a boost," he said. "It's the main thing that people are concerned about, security. If he can score a ceasefire, great. If he can bring the girls back, even better. But we've not yet heard from Boko Haram. Until then, we're taking this with a little salt."
[Image via AP]