Nigeria-based Boko Haram militant group is offering to free over 200 kidnapped schoolgirls in exchange for the release of its elements in custody, an informed source says.
The initiative renews Boko Haram’s last year swap proposal in return for 16 militants in detention, a human rights activist, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told AP on Wednesday.
On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram militants kidnapped 276 students from their secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok. Two days later, 57 of the girls managed to escape but 219 remained in captivity, reportedly in the Sambisa Forest.
In May that year, the militants offered an exchange, but Nigeria’s then President Goodluck Jonathan rejected their request.
In another development on Wednesday, Fred Eno, who has been negotiating with Boko Haram for more than a year, said “another window of opportunity opened” over the past few days for talks, adding that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari offers “a clean slate” to bring the militants back to talks.
Presidential adviser, Femi Adesina, also said recently that the Nigerian government “will not be averse” to talks with Boko Haram, noting that “most wars, however furious or vicious, often end around the negotiation table.”
The remarks come as two bomb explosions, which were blamed on Boko Haram militants, hit the crowded Yantaya Mosque and Shagalinku restaurant in Jos in the Nigerian central city of Jos on June 5.
Mohammed Abdulsalam, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) coordinator for Jos, announced on Wednesday that the death toll from the blasts has risen to 51.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” has claimed responsibility for several deadly shooting attacks and bombings in Nigeria since the beginning of its militancy in 2009, which has so far left over 13,000 people dead.