The Daily Mail is reporting on the release of 82 girls, the largest number to date, who were kidnapped three years ago. The incident sparked the worldwide campaign #bringbackourgirls and put heavy pressure on the Nigerian government to do more to eradicate the terrorist group that has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced over two million in a decades-long terror campaign.
According the Nigerian government, the release of the girls this weekend is the result of years of tense negotiations with the group. Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement that the government was “in constant touch through negotiations, through local intelligence to secure the release of the remaining girls and other abducted persons unharmed.”
CNN reports that the freed girls were immediately taken into military custody and then transferred to the capital, Abuja, where they will have medical checks and be reunited with their families.
"I am very, very excited with this development. I cannot even sleep tonight," said Yana Galang, whose daughter, Rifkatu, was among the girls kidnapped.
Galang told CNN they don't yet know who has been released, "but we're very happy that many have been freed."
"I hope and pray that my daughter is among these released girls," she added.
Enoch Mark, a Christian pastor whose two daughters were among those kidnapped, was overjoyed by the news.
“We have been waiting for this day," he said. "We hope the remaining girls will soon be released.”
Boko Haram kidnapped a total of 276 girls on the evening of April 14, 2014. Fifty-seven girls managed to escape hours after they were kidnapped, but the remaining 219 were held by the group until October of 2016 when 21 girls were released as a result of talks with the government that were brokered by Switzerland and the International Red Cross.
The Catholic world will continue to pray for the release of the remaining girls, particularly the prayer of the Rosary which was the method suggested by Jesus Himself during an apparition to Nigerian Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of the Diocese of Maiduguri in the hard-hit Borno state in 2014. As documented in the new book, The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare, in that apparition, Jesus handed the Bishop a sword which turned into a rosary when the Bishop reached for it. Jesus then said three times, “Boko Haram is gone. Boko Haram is gone. Boko Haram is gone.” Since that apparition, the once powerful terrorist group has been steadily weakened by the increasingly successful efforts of the Nigerian government.
This Saturday, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima where one of the main messages of Our Lady to the three shepherd children was to pray the Rosary daily for world peace.
Join us in answering her request, and in the celebration to take place at the United Nations where the International Pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be welcomed back after 65 years!
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