Aso Rock strikes deal with Boko Haram over release of abducted Chibok schoolgirls

Posted by News Express | 18 May 2014 | 3,670 times

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Boko Haram is ‘prepared to begin release of up to half of the girls’ it abducted April 14 from Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, sources close to the group have revealed.

The sources, according to the British newspaper, The Telegraph, disclosed that Boko Haram has abandoned demands for its top commanders to be released in negotiations with the Nigerian government that could see “gradual” release of schoolgirls as early as next week.

The militant Islamist group, which kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls a month ago, is willing to conduct a “gradual” release of its hostages in return for the release of Boko Haram prisoners in Nigerian jails, the paper said.

According to it, “In a significant concession, the group has abandoned demands for its top commanders to be released, seemingly aware that this would be politically impossible for the Nigerian government.”

It disclosed that a senior Islamic cleric from northern Nigeria has been appointed to mediate with the government on behalf of Boko Haram.

“The cleric has since been joined by a former aide to one of the group’s founders. Neither man has been named, possibly for their own safety. While the Nigerian government has insisted that it is not willing to enter prisoner swap negotiations, the source claimed that dialogue had already been going in secret for several days,” the report said.

It quoted a source as saying, “Contrary to the public rejection of any swap deal by the Nigerian government, there are some on-the-ground talks taking place. An agreement was reached about two or three days ago in principle to start releasing some prisoners.”

The source said that among the prisoners that the group wanted released would be wives and families of Boko Haram fighters, some of whom have been taken into custody by the Nigerian government in order to exert emotional pressure on the fighters themselves. “The group also has a list of lower-level fighters that it wants released as well, but they are not high-profile ones,” the source added.

He said that in exchange, Boko Haram was willing to start a “gradual” release of around 100 of the girls – possibly beginning as early as the coming the week. “Depending on how the other side responds, the girls will be released in small groups. They will be left at a certain safe location, and the authorities will then be told as to where they can pick them up from.”

•Photo shows some of the abducted girls in the video released by Boko Haram.

Source: News Express

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