ABUJA, Nigeria — Eighty-two Chibok schoolgirls are free more than three years after a mass abduction by Boko Haram extremists, according to a Nigerian military official with knowledge of the rescue operation.
Family members say they are eagerly awaiting a list of names and “our hopes and expectations are high.”
The official says the schoolgirls were found near the border town of Banki in Borno state near Cameroon. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make the announcement.
Nigeria’s government says the girls’ release came in exchange for “some Boko Haram suspects held by the authorities.”
The announcement is the first confirmation by the government of any exchange made in its months of negotiations with the extremist group.
After the first negotiated release of 21 Chibok girls in October, the government denied that a ransom was paid or that it freed some detained Boko Haram fighters in exchange for the girls.
The government statement says the freed girls are expected to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday in the capital, Abuja.