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Nigeria troops rescue dozens of kidnap victims: official

By AFP

May 23, 2024 09:25 PM


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Nigeria troops have rescued 64 women and children kidnapped by criminal gangs weeks ago in northwestern Zamfara state, a government spokesman told AFP Thursday.

Mass kidnappings for ransom are common in Nigeria's northwest and central states, where heavily armed gangs known locally as bandits often target remote villages to loot and abduct residents.

Early last month gunmen raided the remote Gidan Danzara village in the Zurmi district of Zamfara, taking 64 women and children captive and demanded ransom for their release.

Zamafara State governor's spokesman Suleiman Bala Idris said the captives were released on Tuesday following a "military onslaught" on bandit camps in the area.

Idris denied any ransom was paid, but residents claimed they had to pay the bandits to secure their release.

Ransom payments to kidnappers is illegal in Nigeria, but families often say they end up selling properties and taking loans to raise cash to free abducted relatives.

Details about Nigerian kidnap rescues are also often unclear with contradictory statements emerging from relatives of victims and authorities over ransom or negotiations with captors.

The criminal gangs, who maintain hidden camps in a vast forest straddling Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Niger states, are notorious for mass abductions, even targeting schools and colleges.

"All the 64 women and children kidnapped from the village were released by their captors due to the military operations conducted by troops in the area," Idris said.

He said a massive deployment of troops to Zamfara in the past week had "changed the trend" with troops taking the battle to  bandit camps.

"This strategy has put pressure on the terrorists, forcing them to flee to neighbouring states and abandoning their captives," he said.

 

 

 


AFP


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