Jihadists hold Christian girl for not converting to Islam
DAPCHI, Nigeria — Schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram jihadist group in Dapchi, northeastern Nigeria, were reunited with their families on Sunday after spending nearly five weeks in captivity.
The Islamists did not release a Christian girl who refused to convert to Islam, reports said.
A total of 105 girls, covered head to toe in burkas, arrived aboard five buses in the town of Dapchi, in Yobe state, where they were greeted by their parents at the boarding school from where they were snatched on February 19.
After their release on Wednesday they had spent three days in the national capital Abuja and were greeted by President Muhammadu Buhari.
One schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, was still in the hands of the Islamists, because she reportedly refused to embrace Islam.
Buhari on Friday pledged to do “everything in our power” to obtain Leah’s freedom.
Authorities earlier expressed optimism that she would be released at the weekend.
But on Sunday, a spokesman for the national police said that comments by national police chief Ibrahim Idris had been “misunderstood and misquoted”.
The police “reiterates that it has no information yet on the release of the last Dapchi schoolgirl,” he said.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the girls were released following negotiations with the insurgents and that no ransom payment or prisoner swap was carried out.
“All they demanded was a ceasefire that would open a safe corridor for returning the girls,” he said Sunday, adding that the week-long truce began on March 19.
The girls were among 111 seized last month, of whom five died apparently during the violent hostage-taking or in the trucks that took them away.
Boko Haram – which means “Western education is forbidden” in Islam — has repeatedly targeted schools providing Western education in the mainly Muslim region as part of an insurgency that has killed at least 20,000 people and displaced more than 2.6 million since 2009. /cbb