news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | October 18, 2014 | 09:39 am IST

Abuja: Nigerian military on Friday said it has agreed a ceasefire with Islamist militants Boko Haram and the schoolgirls abducted by the group will be released, BBC reported.

Nigeria's chief of defence staff Alex Badeh announced the truce.

About six months ago, Boko Haram had sparked global outrage by kidnapping over 200 schoolgirls from a town in Borno state. The continued captivity led to criticism of the Nigerian government's efforts to secure their release.

Boko Haram, which increased its attacks this year, promotes a version of Islam which makes it "haram", or forbidden, for Muslims to participate in any political or social activity associated with Western society. It frequently attacks schools and colleges, viewed by the group as a symbol of Western culture.

Nigeria's 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.

Nigerian presidential aide Hassan Tukur revealed that the agreement was sealed after a month of negotiations, mediated by Chad. A government delegation twice met representatives of the Islamist group as part of the talks.

Tukur said Boko Haram had announced a unilateral ceasefire Thursday and the government responded. "They've assured us they have the girls and they will release them."

"I am cautiously optimistic," he said, adding arrangements for their release would be finalised at another meeting next week in Chad's capital, Ndjamena.

Nigerian government spokesperson Mike Omeri, however, said Boko Haram would not be given territory under the ceasefire agreement - and that the government would not reveal what concessions it would make.

"We are inching closer to release of all groups in captivity, including the Chibok girls," he said.

Boko Haram, however, did not immediately issue any statement. The group has been fighting an insurgency since 2009, with some 2,000 civilians reportedly killed this year.

With IANS 

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