Eleven of the 25 worshipers abducted on Sunday after their church was attacked in northwestern Nigeria have been released by their captors, a religious leader told AFP on Wednesday.
On Sunday, gunmen stormed into Bege Baptist Church in Chikun area of Kaduna State, initially abducting 40 people. Fifteen subsequently managed to escape, leaving 25 people in the hands of the kidnappers.
“Today there are 14 people still being held by the kidnappers, while they released 11,” said Reverend Joseph Hayab, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State.
"They abandoned (in the bush) or freed those they found difficult to manage because of health problems, fatigue, or their age," he said.
Like this exhausted woman, believed to be dead, whom the kidnappers abandoned in the bush with her baby, and who finally regained consciousness and managed to reach her village, he added.
“It is not the number of hostages that counts for them, because even one will allow them to have a ransom in exchange”, advanced the religious leader.
This massive attack is the latest in a series in Nigeria where insecurity will be one of the main challenges for new President Bola Tinubu who is due to take office at the end of the month.
Kidnappings are rampant in northwestern and central Nigeria. The hostages are held in camps hidden in vast forests awaiting the payment of a ransom, an activity that has become very lucrative. Abductions can also be an issue between opposing communities.
Last month, 33 people were killed by gunmen in a village in Kaduna state in an attack amid a conflict between herding and farming communities fighting over water and pasture.