Nigeria says Boko Haram ready to negotiate release of 83 more Chibok girls

Boko Haram has expressed its willingness to negotiate the release 83 more Chibok girls, presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said Sunday, days after the release of 21 abducted girls.

In an interview with Reuters Foundation, Mr. Shehu said leaders of the Islamic State-affiliated group released 21 girls on Thursday to assure the Buhari administration their faction held the girls.

“These 21 released girls are supposed to be tale bearers to tell the Nigerian government that this faction of Boko Haram has 83 more Chibok girls,” Mr. Shehu said. “The faction said it is ready to negotiate if the government is willing to sit down with them.”

Nearly 300 Chibok school girls were abducted by the sect in April 2014.

President Buhari has repeatedly said he would be willing to negotiate with the group if its genuine leaders are identified.

The Boko Haram faction said the remaining kidnapped Chibok girls were with another faction of the sect controlled Abubakar Shekau, Reuters Foundation quoted Mr. Shehu as saying.

Boko Haram has apparently split into at least two factions.

One is believed to be controlled by the elusive leader, Mr. Shekau, and another by Musab al-Barnawi, who is said to be the son of the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf.

The conditions for the release of the 21 girls on Thursday are not yet clear.

The Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, on Thursday, denied reports that the government had swapped captured Boko Haram fighters for their release and said he was not aware if any ransom had been paid.

President Muhammadu Buhari said in Germany he was not informed of what the government traded for the girls.

He said he would receive full briefing after arriving in Nigeria this week.

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