At least 187 hostages have been rescued in a major liberation action by Nigerian troops in Zamfara State. They were abducted at different locations in the region a few weeks ago.
The hostages were freed in a state forest in the northwest of the country. According to a police spokesman, no ransom was paid for them.
Many criminal gangs are active in Nigeria who, among other things, kidnap students and people they find on the road for ransom. Zamfara is one of the states where it happens most often. The security forces action shut down the mobile network in the area. This made it harder for the kidnappers to communicate with each other.
According to the International Crisis Group, an independent organization dedicated to conflict management, the situation in northwestern Nigeria has deteriorated in recent months and the kidnappings had an “increasing stifling effect” on the regions economy. Many bandits are hiding in the wooded area on the Nigeria and Niger border.
The abductions in Nigeria were initially mainly carried out by the Boko Haram and Islamic State terror groups in West Africa. Now schoolchildren are increasingly being kidnapped by the criminal gangs, who are hoping to earn money from the kidnappings.
Human rights organization Unicef estimates that at least 1 million Nigerian children missed the beginning of the school year last month for fear of kidnapping.