Nigerian army has agreed a truce with Islamist militants Boko Haram – and that the schoolgirls the group has abducted will be released.
Nigeria’s chief of defense staff, Alex Badeh, announced the truce. Boko Haram has not made a public statement.
The military has struggled to defeat Boko Haram, which has been fighting an insurgency since 2009.
Boko Haram sparked global outrage six months ago by abducting more than 200 schoolgirls.
The girls were seized in the north-eastern town of Chibok in Borno state, and their continued captivity has led to criticism of the Nigerian government’s efforts to secure their release.
The hostages are thought to have been taken to the vast Sambisa forest, along Nigeria’s border with Cameroon.
Members of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign tweeted on October 17: “We are monitoring the news with huge expectations.”
Air Chief Marshal Badeh revealed the truce at the close of a three-day security meeting between Nigeria and Cameroon. He said Nigerian soldiers would comply with the agreement.
The agreement was sealed after a month of negotiations, mediated by Chad.
As part of the talks, a government delegation twice met representatives of the Islamist group.
Boko Haram, which translates as “Western education is forbidden”, has stepped up attacks against civilian targets since the Nigerian military offensive began.
The group promotes a version of Islam which makes it “haram”, or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society.
It frequently attacks schools and colleges, which it sees as a symbol of Western culture.
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