Babies among 97 hostages freed in Nigeria

·1-min read

Nearly 100 hostages have been rescued more than two months after they were abducted by armed groups in northwest Nigeria, police say.

Among the 97 freed are 19 babies and more than a dozen children, according to Ayuba Elkana, police chief in Zamfara state.

Mostly barefooted, weary and in worn-out clothes, the ex-captives trickled out of the buses that took them to Gusau, capital of Zamfara state.

Women with malnourished-looking babies strapped to their backs trailed behind.

Coming a few days after 21 schoolchildren were freed by security forces, the rescue brought a sigh of relief in Nigeria where armed groups have killed thousands and kidnap for ransom has become commonplace.

Police said the hostages were "rescued unconditionally" on Monday in joint security operations targeting the camps of armed groups that have been terrorising remote communities across the northwest and centre of Africa's most populous country.

They had been abducted from their homes and along highways in remote communities in Zamfara and neighbouring Sokoto state.

The hostages had slept on the ground in abandoned forest reserves that serve as hideouts for the gunmen.

The first batch of 68 "were in captivity for over three months and they include 33 male adults, seven male children, three female children and 25 women including pregnant/nursing mothers," police chief Elkana said.

Another set of 29 victims were rescued "unconditionally" in Kunchin Kalgo forest in the Tsafe local government area of Zamfara, police said.

It is not clear if ransoms were paid for the releases, as is usually the case in many remote communities in Nigeria's troubled north.

Authorities have said their freedom was the result of military operations including airstrikes.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting