Islamist militant group Boko Haram is in talks with the federal government to release more than 200 girls abducted six months ago and negotiate a cease-fire to a deadly insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.
An adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan and a man calling himself the secretary-general of Boko Haram told VOA Thursday that discussions are under way in Saudi Arabia, aided by high level officials from Chad and Cameroon.
Boko Haram’s Danladi Ahmadu, who is in Saudi Arabia, said the girls are “in good condition and unharmed.”
Ahmadu would not elaborate on the conditions under which the girls would be freed. Riyadh is not involved in the negotiations.
On April 14, dozens of Boko Haram fighters stormed a secondary school in the remote northeastern village of Chibok, kidnapping around 270 girls. Fifty-seven managed to escape.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau later threatened to sell the remainder as slave brides, vowing they would not be released until militant prisoners were freed from jail.
President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticized at home and abroad for his slow response to the kidnapping and for the inability of Nigerian troops to quell the violence by the militants, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa’s top economy and leading energy producer.