On Tuesday, October 11, 2016, 21 out of the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group, were released after almost two years and a half of being kidnapped. On Thursday, October 13, 2016, the girls finally met up with their family members thanks to efforts by the Swiss government and the Red Cross.
In April 2014, in the town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram captured 276 girls from a government Secondary School, threatening to marry and enslave them. This act caught international attention and a campaign with the name #Bringbackourgirls began throughout social media in support of the victims and their families. Boko Haram has expressed interest in releasing 83 more Chibok girls if the government is willing to negotiate for the girls’ release. It is believed that the group has about 190 more girls in its keeping and that some of the girls have been raped, forced to marry, and forced to perform strenuous physical tasks.
Boko Haram was formed in northern Nigeria by the now deceased cleric, Mohammed Yusuf. The group’s official name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, which means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”. Boko Haram supports the creation of an Islamic State and opposes Western education. In 2002, Yusuf created a mosque and an Islamic school to which many poor Muslim families sent their children. It was at this religious compound where the enrolled children and teenagers were trained to become jihadists for Boko Haram. The group has authored several terrorist attacks mainly throughout the north of Nigeria, the most notable of these occurring in 2002, 2009, and 2014.
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