The Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram caused an international sensation in 2014 by kidnapping nearly 300 girls from a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria. Their crime, in the view of the group, was simply attending school. The social media movement #BringBackOurGirls was able to nothing to secure their release.
Now, it looks as though a portion of the captured schoolgirls are once again enjoying their freedom. The releases resulted in negotiations between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government. The deal included the government’s release of some members of the group that had been arrested. After receiving medical attention in Lagos, the nation’s capital, the girls will be reunited with their families.
The fate of all of the girls which were kidnapped is not known, but 57 escaped soon after being abducted and another 21 were released due to separate negotiations involving the Nigerian government. Including the 82 currently being released would result in more than 100 girls still unaccounted for.
Boko Haram is a militant Islamic group rooted in Wahhabism, a brand of Islam particularly strict that originated in Saudi Arabia. The group pledged its allegiance to ISIS in 2015 and its ranks are estimated to be about 15,000. That compares to the force ISIS has mobilized of about 30,000.
Nigeria’s northern, largely Muslim, population has often found itself at odds with the Christian southern part of the country. Although radical, the group was not initially violent, but a 2009 crackdown by the Nigeria sparked open conflict that has since spread to parts of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger and killed 20,000 Africans.
Despite the casualties inflicted and early military success, a 2015 offensive severely weakened their strength and limited the geographic operations of the group. Nigeria has claimed that it considers the group to be defeated.