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Africa

Freed kidnapped Dapchi girls speak of their ordeal

media Soldier pass school sign in Dapchi, Yobe state MINU ABUBAKAR / AFP

Girls who were kidnapped by Islamist militants from Boko Haram from Dapchi have told RFI about their ordeal and the relief that most of them were safely released.

One hundred and ten girls were taken on the night of 19 February from the government-run boarding school in the Yobe State town.

“We left their hideout on Sunday,” Fatsuma Abdullahi told RFI Hausa correspondent Bilyaminu Yusuf. “We only arrived back in Dapchi on Wednesday. I have no idea where we were being held, we crossed so many rivers to get there.”

Other witnesses told RFI that the militants entered the town unchallenged, much like the evening last month when they took the girls from the government-run boarding school.

“When we heard the news we ran outside,” said Jona Mohammed, a father a kidnapped Chibok girl, who was in the town to show his solidarity with the Dapchi parents.

“They came in 8 [Toyota] Hilux vans with the ladies. When I saw the girls I shook their hands, I even took pictures with them,” he said.

The Nigerian government says 105 of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from Dapchi have been returned. A boy was also among those released.

Witnesses say that five girls died in captivity.

Information minister Lai Mohammed said in a statement that "the girls were released around 3 am on Wesnesday through back-channel efforts and with the help of some friends of the country."

He added that the release was unconditional, and that the government has not paid a ransom.

Unanswered questions

While many have congratulated the relatively swift return of the girls, many questions remain.

“We still can’t ascertain whether the Nigerian military was present,” Bring Back Our Girls spokesman Sesugh Nkume told RFI.

“In the same manner they were taken out without anybody noticing they were brought back. How is this possible? We have published 14 questions that the government needs to answer urgently and honestly.”

The kidnapping of the Dapchi girls came nearly four years after 276 girls were taken by Boko Haram from a boarding school in Chibok.

More than 100 of those girls are still missing.

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