#BringBackOurGirls: First Chibok Schoolgirl Freed from Boko Haram
One of the missing Chibok schoolgirls abducted by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram back in 2014 has been found alive and well in Nigeria. She is the first of the girls to be brought back since the kidnapping, not including the 57 that were able to flee before they were taken. There are 218 allegedly still missing, and activists say they are heavily guarded somewhere in the Sambisa Forest in the northeast of Nigeria.
According to reports, the girl is Amina Ali Nkeki, and activists from the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) claim to have found her with a baby in her arms and in the company of a man who said he was her husband. He was also a prisoner of Boko Haram. Allegedly they walked out from the forest, asking for help.
But the Nigerian army has an opposing story. Army officials claim that they retrieved the girl in a rescue operation, and that her name is Falmata Mbalala. At the same time they confirmed that they were talking about the same incident. It remains to be seen whether the stories are about two separate girls, or just a case of miscommunication.
Over two years ago, in April 2014, 276 schoolgirls were taken from their secondary school in Chibok by the terror group Boko Haram. The kidnapping sparked reactions from all over the world and was the origin of the social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls, strongly supported by Michelle Obama.
Most of the girls were Christian, and believed to have been forced to convert to Islam, since Boko Haram released a video of the girls reciting the Koran about a month after the kidnapping. Another video, shot on Christmas Day 2015, showed some of the girls wearing long black robes, saying they were treated well but wanted to go home.
Boko Haram was founded in 2002 and its main opposition is to a Western political and social lifestyle. The group wants to prohibit people from participating in elections, wearing Western clothing, and getting a secular education. In 2009 it initiated military operations to create an Islamic state, but today most of its territories have been recaptured by Nigerian military.
The discovery of the girl comes just a few days after reports of a thawing relationship and reconciliation between Nigerian and American governments, with the hope they will cooperate to defeat Boko Haram.