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No new Chibok girls released, presidency says

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One of the 21 freed Chibok girls cries while holding her baby as Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo looks on at his office in Abuja on October 13, 2016. Jihadist group Boko Haram has freed 21 of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped more than two years ago, raising hopes for the release of the others, officials said Thursday. Local sources said their release was part of a prisoner swap with the Nigerian government, but the authorities denied doing a deal with Boko Haram. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA / AFP

One of the 21 freed Chibok girls cries while holding her baby as Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo looks on at his office in Abuja on October 13, 2016. Jihadist group Boko Haram has freed 21 of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped more than two years ago. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA / AFP

The presidency has denied report that another 21 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram from their school have been released by their abductors.

Media reports had claimed that another 21 girls were freed on Thursday and were brought to Yola International Airport in Yola, Adamawa State capital around 3 pm on Thursday.

But presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said the girls seen at the airport were the ones earlier released in October.

“No new girls have been released but by God’s grace, they will be. Happy Christmas, everyone,” Shehu said. “Today, the DSS took the 21 Girls already secured to Yola, Adamawa State on their way home to celebrate the Christmas with their families,” Shehu explained.

He, however, confirmed that negotiations for the release of more of the kidnapped girls were still ongoing.

“The negotiations are ongoing and the Department of State Service, DSS is full of optimism that they will be successful.

More than 200 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls held since April 14, 2014, by Boko Haram. 21 of the girls were released on October 13 in a deal brokered by the International Committee of Red Cross and the Swiss government.

The federal government said a day after their release that it was negotiating with a faction of Boko Haram for the release of additional release 83 girls.

“These 21 released girls are supposed to be talebearers to tell the Nigerian government that this faction of Boko Haram has 83 more Chibok girls,” said presidential spokesman Garba Shehu.

“The faction said it is ready to negotiate if the government is willing to sit down with them,” said Shehu, adding that the state is prepared to negotiate with the branch of Boko Haram.



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