Eighty two of the 276 Nigerian school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram were released on Saturday in exchange for five commanders of the militant extremist group.
The young girls—who were kidnapped from their school in the rural town of Chibok, Nigeria in April 2014—were returned to their families and met with Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja.
“I cannot express in a few words how happy I am to welcome our dear girls back to freedom,” the president said in a statement.
Boko Haram has been terrorizing parts of Nigeria for nearly a decade, viciously attacking and destroying places of worship, schools and markets. The rebel group tends to target some of the poorest communities in Nigeria and routinely rapes women, kills children and torches entire towns. According to Amnesty International, the conflict between the Nigerian government and the rebel group has affected more than 14 million people and displaced thousands from their homes.
The 2014 abduction gained international attention after activists started using #BringBackOurGirls on Twitter, sparking a social media movement.
— First Lady- Archived (@FLOTUS44) May 7, 2014
The Washington Post cited the #BringBackOurGirls campaign as evidence of slacktivism on social media given that the hashtag was used by more than one million people, but not all users seemed to know what they were tweeting about. That being said, the hashtag put this issue on the radar of the international community.
In a statement, the Nigerian president expressed the government’s commitment to free the remaining missing girls. While this weekend marked the largest victory in the campaign to recover the kidnapped girls, 113 schoolgirls are still in captivity.