More than 60 women and girls who had been abducted by Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram have reportedly escaped to freedom, after their captors left for a raid. More than 200 schoolgirls abducted in April remain missing.
Nigerian officials say 68 women were abducted two weeks ago in the country’s northeast. The Associated Press, citing a vigilante leader in the town of Maiduguri, reports that 63 of them made it to safety over the weekend.
From Dakar, NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports for our Newscast unit:
“Reports say the girls and women managed to get away when their militant abductors took off to attack a military base near Damboa, in Nigeria’s troubled northeastern Borno state.
“A local vigilante group member trying to protect civilians told journalists he had received an alert that the former captives had made it back home. Relatives have confirmed that they are indeed safe. Insecurity is rife in this restive part of Nigeria, making it difficult to confirm such reports.
“Boko Haram sparked international outrage after the mass kidnap of students at their school in Chibok in April. The group is demanding the release of its fighters in exchange for the girls, in a deal rejected by Nigeria’s government.”
Details of the abduction and reported escape have been difficult to ascertain — it seems some of the women might have fled their captors soon after they were taken, and others were able to escape recently. We’ll update this post with new information as it comes in.