The civilians were held for 42 days and released without ransom payment, police say
One hundred kidnapped villagers in northwest Nigeria were freed Tuesday after being held hostage for 42 days.
Armed gangs — called bandits by locals — have long plagued the forests of northwest and central Nigeria by looting, stealing cattle and abducting for ransom.
In this instance, on July 8 gunmen stormed Manawa village and seized 100 residents, including children, and took them to their forest hideout, a spokesman for Zamfara state police said in a statement.
Hostages are usually released after ransom payment, with those whose families fail to pay often being killed — but Mohammed Shehu said that this time, the release was “unconditional” and had been secured “without giving any financial or material gain” to the gang.
A source familiar with the negotiations told AFP the bandits agreed to release the kidnapped villagers after the police and state authorities “assured them no action would be taken against them for the kidnap.”
The released hostages would undergo medical checks before being reunited with their families, Shehu said.
Nigeria’s air force has in the past attacked bandit camps while some northern states have sought to negotiate with the gangs by offering amnesties in return for disarmament. Neither strategy has worked.
Earlier this week, 13 policemen were killed in an ambush as they deployed to protect a village from an imminent attack, and separately bandits were able to shoot a Nigerian fighter jet out of the sky. The pilot ejected safely and evaded capture to rejoin his comrades.