Eighty-three Chibok schoolgirls seized three years ago by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria have been released into military custody, authorities say.
The dramatic development came on Saturday after the mass abduction that brought the extremist group’s rampage to world attention.
Nigeria’s government says the schoolgirls were released in exchange for detained Boko Haram suspects and are expected to meet President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday in the capital.
Family members said they were eagerly awaiting a list of names and “our hopes and expectations are high”.
It was the second group release of Chibok schoolgirls. Nigeria’s government in October announced that 21 girls had been freed after negotiations with Boko Haram, saying another group of 83 would be released “very soon”.
Before Saturday’s release, 195 of the girls had remained captive.
“Huge numbers,” the personal assistant to President Buhari, Bashir Ahmad, tweeted late on Saturday.
A Nigerian military official with direct knowledge of the rescue operation said the 83 freed girls were found near the town of Banki in Borno state near Cameroon.