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Kidnapped as a teen, Chibok schoolgirl returns 10 years later as a mother of 3

Kidnapped as a teen, Chibok schoolgirl returns 10 years later as a mother of 3

Nigerian soldiers rescued a woman who had been abducted by extremists a decade ago when she was a schoolgirl in the village of Chibok, the army reported on Thursday. Her three children were also rescued.

Lydia Simon, who is currently five months pregnant, was rescued by Nigerian troops in the Gwoza council area of Borno state, where the 15-year insurgency by Islamic extremists is concentrated, according to a statement from the army. Although her exact age wasn’t immediately disclosed by authorities, she is likely in her 20s.

Accompanying the statement was a photo of Simon and her children, who appear to be between the ages of 2 and 4. She has not yet been reunited with her family.

Simon was one of the 276 girls abducted from their school in Chibok in April 2014 during the peak of the extremist violence in the region. Presently, about 82 of them are still in captivity.

The Chibok abduction, the first in a series of mass school kidnappings in the West African nation, shocked the world and sparked a global social media campaign under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

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The Nigerian army did not disclose the details of her rescue beyond mentioning that she was rescued in Ngoshe, a hot spot located 130 kilometers (74 miles) north of the Borno state capital of Maiduguri.

There are doubts among some Chibok parents and security analysts regarding the existence of a dedicated military operation to free the abducted women. Most of those who have returned in recent years were found abandoned in forests.

According to Chioma Agwuegbo, an activist involved in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, some of the women recently freed were subjected to rape by the insurgents or coerced into forced marriages.

“We have heard their stories about the amount of trauma and violence they have faced. Somebody who was kidnapped 10 years ago is not returning as the same person,” Agwuegbo said.

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Villagers in Chibok joined Simon’s family as they waited for when they would be allowed to see her.

“The government has not told us anything (and) we are waiting for an official call,” said Yakubu Nkeki, chairman of the Chibok girls’ parents’ association.

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