More than 300 Nigerian schoolboys have arrived in the capital of Katsina state to celebrations of their release from captivity.
The boys were abducted on the night of December 11 from the all-boys Government Science Secondary School in Kankara village in Katsina state in north-western Nigeria.
They arrived in Katsina on Friday, the capital of the state, and met governor Aminu Bello Masari.
Bleary-eyed and appearing stunned by their ordeal, the boys piled into chairs in a conference room, most still in their school uniforms, some wrapped in grey blankets.
The oldest of the boys sat in the front row and were greeted by officials.
Mr Masari announced their release late on Thursday, saying 344 boarding school pupils were turned over to security officials.
He said no ransom was paid to secure the boys’ freedom.
“I think we can say … we have recovered most of the boys, if not all of them,” he said.
The boys from the secondary boarding school will get physical examinations in the state capital before being reunited with their families, the governor said.
Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadist rebels claimed responsibility for the abduction.
Leader Abubakar Shekau said they attacked the school because they believe Western education is un-Islamic.
More than 800 pupils were in attendance at the time of the attack.
Hundreds escaped but it is believed that more than 330 were taken.
The government had said it was negotiating with the school attackers, originally described as bandits.
Experts say the attack was likely carried out by local gangs – who have staged increasingly deadly assaults in north-west Nigeria this year – in collaboration with Boko Haram.
Armed bandits, also known for kidnappings for ransom, have killed more than 1,100 people since the beginning of the year in the region, according to Amnesty International.
Friday’s abduction was a chilling reminder of Boko Haram’s previous attacks on schools.
In February 2014, a total of 59 boys were killed when the jihadists attacked the Federal Government College Buni Yadi in Yobe state.
Boko Haram then kidnapped more than 270 schoolgirls in April 2014 from a government boarding school in Chibok in north-eastern Borno state.
About 100 of those girls are still missing.
In 2018, Boko Haram brought back nearly all of the 110 girls they had kidnapped from a boarding school in Dapchi and warned: “Don’t ever put your daughters in school again.”