Africa

Nigeria says 21 of abducted Chibok schoolgirls are freed

  • FILE- In this undated image taken from video distributed Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, an alleged Boko Haram soldier standing in front of a group of girls alleged to be some of the 276 abducted Chibok schoolgirls held since April 2014, in an unknown location.  Twenty-one of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamic extremists more than two years ago have been freed in negotiations, officials said Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. Some 197 girls remain captive, though it is not known how many of them may have died. (Militant video/Site Institute via AP File)

    FILE- In this undated image taken from video distributed Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, an alleged Boko Haram soldier standing in front of a group of girls alleged to be some of the 276 abducted Chibok schoolgirls held since April 2014, in an unknown location. Twenty-one of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamic extremists more than two years ago have been freed in negotiations, officials said Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. Some 197 girls remain captive, though it is not known how many of them may have died. (Militant video/Site Institute via AP File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Monday, May 12, 2014 file image taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. Twenty-one of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamic extremists more than two years ago have been freed in negotiations, officials said Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. Some 197 girls remain captive, though it is not known how many of them may have died. (AP Photo/File)

    FILE - In this Monday, May 12, 2014 file image taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. Twenty-one of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamic extremists more than two years ago have been freed in negotiations, officials said Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. Some 197 girls remain captive, though it is not known how many of them may have died. (AP Photo/File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released by the Nigeria State House, Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, left, welcomes some of the freed Chibok school girls at the state House in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. Twenty-one of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram more than two years ago were freed Thursday in a swap for detained leaders of the Islamic extremist group — the first release since nearly 300 girls were taken captive in a case that provoked international outrage. (Sunday Aghaeze/Nigeria State House via AP)

    In this photo released by the Nigeria State House, Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, left, welcomes some of the freed Chibok school girls at the state House in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. Twenty-one of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram more than two years ago were freed Thursday in a swap for detained leaders of the Islamic extremist group — the first release since nearly 300 girls were taken captive in a case that provoked international outrage. (Sunday Aghaeze/Nigeria State House via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Nigerian officials say 21 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram extremists more than two years ago have been freed.

Presidential spokesman Mallam Garba Shehu tweeted Thursday that the girls are in the custody of Nigeria's Department of State Services.

He said the release is a result of negotiations between the government and Boko Haram, brokered by the Swiss government and the International Red Cross. He said negotiations will continue.

The abduction of 276 schoolgirls in April 2014 brought international condemnation of Boko Haram, Nigeria's home-grown Islamic extremist group. Dozens of the girls escaped, but most remain missing.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has said the girls would only be released if the government swaps them for detained extremist leaders.