Four girls kidnapped by Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram more than six weeks ago have escaped and have been reunited with their parents, according to local news reports.
Nigeria’s ThisDay cited Musa Inuwa Kubo, the education commissioner for Borno state, where Boko Haram militants attacked the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School on Apr. 14.
With the return of the four girls, that leaves 219 others still missing. There were 53 girls who escaped the militant group in the hours and days following the late night attack on their school. (The number of girls abducted and still missing has varied according to different reports)
The government-run News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported the girls returned on Tuesday.
Musa Kolo, the director of personnel and management for the Chibok local government council, said the girls were ill and let go by their captors, NAN reported.
On Monday, a Nigerian defence chief said officials knew the whereabouts of the girls, but would not use force to rescue them.
“Nobody should say Nigerian military does not know what it is doing; we can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back,” Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshall Alex Badeh told NAN.
Several foreign governments, including Canada, have pledged support to locate the schoolgirls.
WATCH: Rival groups, both calling for the release of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted more than a month ago, clashed on Wednesday during a peaceful demonstration in the capital Abuja.
Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau, in a video released earlier this month, warned the girls would be sold as slaves.
Several dozen girls were seen in the video wearing hijabs and were shown reciting verses from the Koran. Shekau said all of the girls had converted to Islam.
It was reported last month some of the girls may have been taken across Nigeria’s borders into Chad or Cameroon.
The militant group has been fighting a deadly battle since 2009 to establish an Islamic state governed by strict Sharia law.
The group has carried out a series of deadly attacks, killing more than 1,500 people so far this year. Since the attack on the school in Chibok, the group has been blamed for a number of bombings and assaults on communities in northeastern Nigeria, including a May 8 attack on a town near the border with Cameroon that left at least 300 people dead.
© Shaw Media, 2014