Security forces in Nigeria have rescued 24 hostages from armed kidnappers in the northwestern state of Zamfara. The operation took place in the early hours of Friday, the Nigerian army says.
The abductees including a child were freed by the military ”after a shootout with notorious bandits at Kabugu Lamba, an abandoned village in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara state,” the army said in a statement.
Four of the kidnappers had been killed by the army. It is not clear when and how the victims were kidnapped. But in a photo shared by the authorities, they look exhausted.
Nigeria has been struggling to tackle rampant kidnappings for ransom by criminal gangs locally known as bandits.
They often target people on highways, in rural communities as well as students in schools. They also steal livestock.
The Nigerian security forces have recorded successes in recent years with ground and air attacks on the gangs’ hideouts mainly in the north of the country.
Apart from the kidnapping gangs, the west African country is also dealing with militant groups including Boko Haram and Daesh locally known as ISWAP.
The country’s new president Bola Tinubu had promised to build on the gains of his predecessor Muhammadu Buhari in the area of security.