The families of 82 Nigerian Chibok schoolgirls that were held captive by Boko Haram have wept and danced in the street after laying eyes on the young women for the first time in three years.
The emotional mass reunion played out in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, where the young women were taken by government authorities following their release earlier this month.
Some collapsed into family member’s arms, while others dropped to their knees and prayed as jubilant music played in the street.
“I feel very excited, very happy. I cannot over emphasise how I feel. I am just laughing, clapping my hands with all the family,” one father said.
The reunion marked the biggest liberation of hostages since 276 Chibok schoolgirls were abducted from their boarding school in 2014.
Many were forced into marriages, raped and had children with members of the extremist group.
Authorities fear some have been used to carry out suicide bombings in cities and camps for internally displaced people in Nigeria’s ravaged northeast.
Five commanders from Boko Haram were released in exchange for the girls’ freedom. Another 21 were released in October, with 113 remaining in captivity.
The mass abduction in April 2014 brought international attention to Boko Haram’s deadly insurgency in northern Nigeria, and it launched a global Bring Back Our Girls campaign that drew the backing of some celebrities, including former US first lady Michelle Obama.