Seventy-five children who were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Zamfara were freed after their abductors came under pressure from a military crackdown, a state official said on Sunday.
Gunmen took the students from the village of Kaya on Sept. 1, the latest in a spate of mass kidnappings from schools across the region.
More than 1,100 children have been abducted since December last year. Authorities say heavily armed gangs of bandits, seeking ransom payments, are behind the abductions.
A spokesman for the Zamfara State governor said no ransom had been paid for the 75 children. The spokesman sent reporters images of boys and girls in uniform, seated inside what looked like a meeting room. He did not say when they were freed.
Zamfara has been one of the worst-hit states in the abduction crisis. On Sept. 3, authorities ordered a phone and internet blackout there while security forces cracked down on the gangs.
Since then, the state has been largely cut off from the outside world and while rumours have circulated about what is going on, the military has given little information.
Since Sunday evening, several Nigerian media outlets have reported that bandits in Zamfara had attacked a military base and killed 12 soldiers. Asked to comment, defence spokesman Major General Benjamin Sawyerr neither denied nor confirmed the reports.