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People in Katsina, Nigeria, urging authorities to rescue hundreds of abducted schoolboys on Dec. 17. Photo: Kola Sulamimon/AFP via Getty Images

More than 300 Nigerian schoolboys captured by Boko Haram nearly a week ago were handed over to government security agencies on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing the Katsina state governor.

Why it matters: Their release puts to rests fears that the boys would become long-term hostages of the Jihadist group and prompted outpourings of relief across Nigeria.

The state of play: Over 800 students were present at the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, when it was attacked on December 11.

  • A man claiming to be a leader in Nigeria’s Boko Haram claimed in an unverified audio message released Tuesday that the armed group was responsible for the kidnapping of over 330 students from an all-boys school in the northwestern state of Katsina last week, the Associated Press reports.
  • Boko Haram has been terrorizing Nigeria and its neighboring countries for years. The group has carried out several mass abductions, including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok in 2014.
  • Boko Haram has abducted over 1,000 children, according to UNICEF.

The big picture: Gov. Aminu Bello Masari announced in a televised address that 344 of the boys had been handed to authorities in neighboring Zamfara state, more than 100 miles from their school in Katsina state, according to the Journal.

  • Masari added that the liberated boys would be taken to Katsina for immediate medical attention. He and other state governors did not offer details of the deal that secured the boys' release.

What's next: The government plans to coordinate with “the police and also to engage private security firms to safeguard schools” to avoid the “ugly experience of the last six days,” Masari said, per AP.

Go deeper

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

In cyber espionage, U.S. is both hunted and hunter

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

American outrage over foreign cyber espionage, like Russia's SolarWinds hack, obscures the uncomfortable reality that the U.S. secretly does just the same thing to other countries.

Why it matters: Secrecy is often necessary in cyber spying to protect sources and methods, preserve strategic edges that may stem from purloined information, and prevent diplomatic incidents.