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What happened to … the Chibok girls and Boko Haram, Part 2

 In this Monday April 21, 2014 file photo, four female students of government secondary school Chibok, who were abducted by gunmen and reunited with their families walk in Chibok, Nigeria. The number of kidnapped schoolgirls missing in Nigeria has risen to 276, up by more than 30 from a previous estimate, police said, adding that the actual number abducted by Islamic extremists on April 14 was more than 300. Police Commissioner Tanko Lawan said the number of girls and young women who have escaped also has risen, to 53.
In this Monday April 21, 2014 file photo, four female students of government secondary school Chibok, who were abducted by gunmen and reunited with their families walk in Chibok, Nigeria. The number of kidnapped schoolgirls missing in Nigeria has risen to 276, up by more than 30 from a previous estimate, police said, adding that the actual number abducted by Islamic extremists on April 14 was more than 300. Police Commissioner Tanko Lawan said the number of girls and young women who have escaped also has risen, to 53. AP Photo/ Haruna Umar, File

On Part 2 of the Global News podcast What happened to…? Erica Vella revisits the abduction of the Chibok girls by Boko Haram.

Hannatu Stephens was in her school’s hostel in Chibok on the night of April 14, 2014.

Speaking through a translator, she said at around 1 a.m., she heard loud noises coming from outside.

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“We heard our gate being broken. They entered the school and said they were soldiers and asked us to assemble at one place. We believed them and gathered,” she said.

The men who had broken into the hostel were not military soldiers, but members of the insurgency group, Boko Haram.

READ MORE: Nigerian schoolgirls freed from Boko Haram meeting families after 3 years

Stephens and 275 other young women were ordered to leave the hostel and the insurgents set the school on fire.

Click to play video: 'Boko Haram video of kidnapped Chibok girls offers proof to some parents their kids are still alive' Boko Haram video of kidnapped Chibok girls offers proof to some parents their kids are still alive
Boko Haram video of kidnapped Chibok girls offers proof to some parents their kids are still alive – Aug 15, 2016

“They asked us to walk in the direction of the forest to the place where they parked their vehicles. They surrounded us on all sides and walked with us. We did not know where they were taking us to,” Stephens said, adding the journey would continue for days and she and the other girls had no idea where they were headed.

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“They stopped at a point in the night and cooked food but none of us ate. We asked where they were taking us to. They said they were taking us to the barracks. We did not know what they meant by barracks … They asked us to board the vehicles and continue moving. We spent three days on the way to Sambisa.”

Read more: Boko Haram leader says kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls will be sold

Stephens and the other girls were taken to Sambisa Forest, the known hiding sport for members of Boko Haram.

“Our abductors had guns, the military type of guns. There were no built houses in Sambisa, only grass houses. We were kept in grass huts,” she said. She said she was constantly afraid she and the girls would be killed, that even the insurgents’ clothing was frightening.

“They threatened to kill us if the military attacked the forest. When they dressed, you can only see their eyes. I thought they would kill me.”

The abduction of 276 girls sparked a campaign called Bring Back Our Girls, which had become the rallying cry in Nigeria and abroad.

The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag tweeted by hundreds of thousands of people, including former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama.

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Read more: Nigeria kidnappings — Can online campaigning #BringBackOurGirls?

Stephens would be one of 82 schoolgirls eventually released after more than three years in Boko Haram captivity.

WATCH: Why Boko Haram released dozens of Chibok girls

Click to play video: 'Why Boko Haram released dozens of Chibok girls' Why Boko Haram released dozens of Chibok girls
Why Boko Haram released dozens of Chibok girls – May 7, 2017

In the largest liberation of hostages since the schoolgirls were abducted from their boarding school in 2014, five commanders from the extremist group were exchanged for the girls’ freedom.

On this episode of Global News’ What happened to…?, Erica Vella speaks with Hannatu Stephens about the night of the abduction and what life was like after she was freed. Erica also speaks with experts to find out if Boko Haram is still a threat to those living in Nigeria.

– With Files from the Associated Press.

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Contact:

Email: erica.vella@globalnews.ca

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