Nigeria: hopes for return of kidnapped schoolgirls rise after ceasefire reported | World news | The Guardian

The Nigerian government says it has agreed a ceasefire with the Islamist militant group Boko Haram and is negotiating for the release of 219 schoolgirls kidnapped six months ago.The deal would mark a huge breakthrough after a five-year insurgency by extremists seeking to create an Islamic state in the north of Africa’s most populous country. It has left thousands dead and a worldwide outcry was prompted when the girls were abducted in April from the north-eastern town of Chibok.Members of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign tweeted: “We are monitoring the news with huge expectations.”But questions surrounded the purported agreement on Friday. Similar claims from the government and military have failed to bear fruit. The Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, is expected to declare that he is standing for re-election, and positive news about the hostages and insurgency could deflect criticism of his handling of the crisis.Mike Omeri, a government spokesman, told a press conference in the capital, Abuja: “Already, the terrorists have announced a ceasefire in furtherance of their desire for peace. In this regard, the government of Nigeria has, in similar vein, declared a ceasefire.”Omeri claimed that there had been direct negotiations this week about the release of the missing girls. Boko Haram negotiators “assured that the schoolgirls and all other people in their captivity are all alive and well”, he said.The truce was announced on Friday by Nigeria’s chief of defence staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, who ordered his troops to comply immediately with the agreement. Boko Haram has not made a public statement

via Nigeria: hopes for return of kidnapped schoolgirls rise after ceasefire reported | World news | The Guardian.

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