Nigerian police rescue 24 kidnapped people in northwest region

Police on patrol after an attack by bandits in north-west Nigeria in 2020. Authorities say cattle thieves have killed 66 people in a spate of violence in the region. Photograph: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters
Police on patrol after an attack by bandits in northwest Nigeria in 2020. Authorities say cattle thieves have killed 66 people in a spate of violence in the region. Photograph: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

Nigerian police confirmed on Tuesday 24 kidnapped people, including five students, had regained their freedom during recent search and rescue operations by security operatives in the country’s northwest state of Zamfara.

Ayuba Elkanah, police chief in Zamfara state, said at a press briefing in the state capital Gusau all the rescued victims have been handed over to the state government on Tuesday.

The five students spent about two months in captivity after they were taken away by unidentified gunmen from two schools in the state’s Shinkafi and Kaura Namoda local government areas respectively in September, said Elkanah.

He said security operatives acted on intelligence and rescued the five students along with eight others held by the gunmen in the Shinkafi local government area on Monday evening.

“The victims … have been rescued unconditionally,” Elkanah said.

Also on Monday, a police tactical team deployed on the Gusau-Tsafe-Funtua road in the state rescued 11 passengers abducted by armed bandits in a recent road hijack, he said.

Elkanah said all the rescued people will undergo medical checks and police debriefings before being reunited with their families.

The northern part of Nigeria has witnessed a series of attacks by gunmen in recent months, with many civilians killed or kidnapped.