Richard Ginika Izuora
Some 97 abducted persons, mostly women and children who spent about two months with their abductors were among those rescued by security operatives in Zamfara State.
Among them also include 19 babies and other minors that have been identified among the hostages recently released by bandits.
The Commissioner of Police in Zamfara State, Ayuba Elkana, confirmed that the released captives included 19 babies and more than a dozen children.
The bandits have faced severe military bombardments of forests where they operated.
Those freed were conveyed in buses that took them to Gusau; the Zamfara State Capital as well as women with malnourished-looking babies strapped to their backs.
Elkana said that the hostages were rescued unconditionally on Monday in joint security operations; largely targeting the camps of armed groups that have been terrorizing remote communities across the region.
Most of the victims had been abducted from their homes; as well as along highways in remote communities in Zamfara and neighboring Sokoto State.
Elkana said that the hostages had slept on the ground in abandoned forest reserves that serve as hideouts of the bandits.
According to him, the first set of 68 were held for over three months and they include 33 male adults; as well as seven male children, three female children and 25 women including pregnant/nursing mothers respectively.
Another group of 29 victims were also rescued unconditionally in Kunchin Kalgo forest in the Tsafe local government area of Zamfara.
Mostly barefooted, weary and in worn-out clothes, the ex-captives trickled out of the buses that took them to Gusau, capital of Zamfara state. Women with malnourished-looking babies strapped to their backs trailed behind.
Coming a few days after 21 schoolchildren were freed by security forces, the rescue brought a sigh of relief in Nigeria where armed groups have killed thousands and kidnapped many residents and travelers in exchange for ransoms.