Boko Haram returns Nigerian kidnapped schoolgirls - witnesses

Boko Haram has released the 76 Chibok school girls kidnapped. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Boko Haram returns Nigerian kidnapped schoolgirls - witnesses

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: A plane carrying scores of Nigerian schoolgirls freed by Boko Haram militants on Wednesday has taken off for the capital Abuja, a Reuters witness reported.
Information Minister Lai mohammed, speaking in Maiduguri, said 105 people had been rescued so far, two of whom were not students.
He said the government was still negotiating with Boko Haram to release the remaining Chibok schoolgirls, 100 of whom remain unaccounted for. “Not for one moment has there been a break in the negotiations with this armed insurgency,” he said.

Boko Haram militants rolled into Dapchi in nine vehicles in the morning and the girls were left in the center of town. As terrified residents emerged from their homes, the extremists said “this is a warning to you all,” resident Ba’ana Musa told The Associated Press.
“We did it out of pity. And don’t ever put your daughters in school again,” the extremists said. Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language.
Nigeria’s government said 101 of the 110 schoolgirls, most of them Muslim, had been confirmed freed and that the number “would be updated after the remaining ones have been documented.”
“No ransoms were paid,” the information minister, Lai Mohammed, said in a statement. The girls were released “through back-channel efforts and with the help of some friends of the country, and it was unconditional.”
A decision against military “confrontation” was part of the agreement, he added.
Bashir Manzo, whose 16-year-old daughter was among those kidnapped during the Feb. 19 attack, confirmed that his daughter was among those freed.
“As I speak to you there is jubilation in Dapchi,” he said.
The mass abduction and the government response brought back painful memories of the 2014 attack on a boarding school in Chibok. Boko Haram militants abducted 276 girls, and about 100 of them have never returned. Some girls were forced to marry their captors, and many had children fathered by the militants.
The latest mass abduction is thought to have been carried out by a Boko Haram splinter group aligned with Daesh, one that has criticized the leader of the main Boko Haram organization for targeting civilians and has focused instead on military and Western targets.
Residents in Dapchi fled on Wednesday morning upon hearing that Boko Haram vehicles were headed toward the town.
“We fled but, from our hiding, we could see them and surprisingly, we saw our girls getting out of the vehicles,” Umar Hassan told the AP.
“They assembled the girls and talked to them for some few minutes and left without any confrontation,” said another resident, Kachallah Musa.
The girls were at the general hospital in Dapchi “and the counselors are there with them,” the information minister told reporters. As with the released Chibok schoolgirls, “they will be quarantined and be counseled before they go back to their schools.”
Their release came a day after an Amnesty International report accused the Nigerian military of failing to heed several warnings of the imminent attack last month. The military has called the report an “outright falsehood.”
Nigeria’s government celebrated the girls’ release. “GREAT NEWS from Dapchi, Yobe State. Thank God for the safe return of our sisters. Alhamdulillah!” an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, Bashir Ahmad, said on Twitter.


UK’s Theresa May: Trump told me to ‘sue the EU’ over Brexit

Updated 54 min ago
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UK’s Theresa May: Trump told me to ‘sue the EU’ over Brexit

  • Trump that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal”

LONDON: Donald Trump has advised British Prime Minister Theresa May to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Britain’s impending exit from the bloc.
The American president told reporters Friday at a joint press conference with May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”
Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May said with an amused expression: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.”
She quickly followed with a laugh: “Actually we’re going into negotiations with them.”
She added: “Interestingly, what the president also said at that press conference was ‘Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.’“
It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant, but the revelation capped a series of explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.
In an interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday — just as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner — Trump said the British leader’s approach likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”
He also praised May’s rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign secretary to protest May’s Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a “great prime minister.”
The comments shocked many in Britain — even May’s opponents — and couldn’t have come at a worse time for May, who is facing a crisis over Brexit from within her own ranks. Her Conservative government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.
The US president later sought to soften the blow, telling reporters at Friday’s joint news conference that May was an “incredible woman” who is “doing a fantastic job” as prime minister.
He denied he criticized May, saying the Sun tabloid did not print his complimentary remarks about the British leader, but the Sun released audio that proved otherwise.
Asked to rate US-UK relations, Trump gave them the “highest level of special.” He added it was up to May how to handle Brexit, though he wants to ensure the US “can trade and we don’t have any restrictions” on commerce with the United Kingdom.
May’s government has just published its long-awaited Brexit plans, which propose to keep Britain and the EU in a free market for goods, with a more distant relationship for services. That has infuriated fervent Brexit supporters, who see it as a bad deal. Along with Johnson, the man who had been leading the Brexit negotiations, David Davis, also quit in protest.
May on Sunday warned party rebels they should fall into line, saying wrecking her Brexit blueprint could result in disaster.
“We need to keep our eyes on the prize. If we don’t, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all,” she wrote in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
She acknowledged that some lawmakers had doubts about her plans to stick to a “common rulebook” with the bloc for goods and agricultural products in return for free trade, without tariffs or border customs checks, but insisted she couldn’t see a viable alternative.
Britain’s status as part of the EU’s single market and tariff-free customs union for goods will end after the UK leaves the bloc in March.