With an ominous warning, Boko Haram extremists on Wednesday returned most of the 110 girls abducted from their Nigeria boarding school a month ago. The fighters rolled into Dapchi around 2am in nine vehicles and left the girls in the center of town. As terrified residents emerged from their homes, the extremists said "this is a warning to you all," resident Ba'ana Musa told the AP. "We did it out of pity. And don't ever put your daughters in school again." Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden." Nigeria's information minister said 76 of the 110 schoolgirls had been confirmed freed and indicated the number would rise, as the release was "ongoing." "No ransoms were paid," he said. But there was an ominous coda, per Reuters. "About five [of us who were taken away] are dead. One is still with them because she is a Christian," says newly freed Khadija Grema.
Family members were en route to the town Wednesday morning. "When I get there we will do a head count to see if all of them have been released," said Bashir Manzo, whose 16-year-old daughter was among those freed. "As I speak to you there is jubilation in Dapchi." Residents in Dapchi fled upon hearing that Boko Haram vehicles were headed toward the town. "We fled but, from our hiding, we could see them and surprisingly, we saw our girls getting out of the vehicles," Umar Hassan told the AP. "They assembled the girls and talked to them for some few minutes and left without any confrontation," said another resident, Kachallah Musa. Their release came a day after an Amnesty International report accused the Nigerian military of failing to heed several warnings of the imminent attack on Feb. 19. The military has called the report an "outright falsehood."