Boko Haram militants, after negotiation with the Nigerian government have released 82 schoolgirls out of a group of more than 200 whom they kidnapped from the north-eastern town of Chibok three years ago.

Around 270 girls were kidnapped in the middle of the night April 2014 by the Boko Haram militant group, which has killed 15,000 people and displaced more than two million during a seven-year insurgency in Nigeria. The kidnapping from a boarding school in the town of Chibok sparked global outrage and the social media movement #BringBackOurGirls.

The 82 girls who had been stolen have been welcomed back into the free world by the country’s president Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday night in the capital Abuja, after their release from captivity for three years. Dozens escaped from the clasps of the melees but more than 200 remained missing for more than two years. The Nigerian government exchanges the girls with prisoners and thanked Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross for helping secure the release of the 82 girls after “lengthy negotiations”.

The girls were freed on Saturday as part of a swap for an undisclosed number of Boko Haram fighters, according to government officials

The girls were pictured with the president in brightly coloured outfits. Posting images of their meeting on Facebook, Mr Buhari wrote: ‘I cannot express in a few words how happy I am to welcome our dear girls back to freedom.’. The girls were medically checked and were kept in a secured area. These girls will return back to school and normal lives after three years of captivity. And the president has directed security agencies to continue in earnest until all the Chibok girls have been released and reunited with their families.

The army has retaken most of the territory initially lost to the militants but attacks and suicide bombings by the group have made it nearly impossible for displaced persons to return to their recaptured hometowns. But the security forces and government are still working expunging the militants from country.