Nearly 200 kidnap victims rescued in Nigeria

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Police in north-west Nigeria say they have rescued 187 villagers abducted from their homes by criminal gangs.

The victims, who had spent several weeks in captivity, were freed by security forces following an operation in Tsibiri forest in Zamfara state, police spokesman Mohammed Shehu said.

They include the young and elderly people. Some are nursing mothers with their infants.

They looked hungry and emaciated – an indication of the harsh conditions they had been through before they were rescued.

They have been handed over to the state government for medical checks before they can rejoin their families.

Last month, the authorities in Zamfara and neighbouring Kaduna state shut down phone communications to enable the security forces to fight armed gangs.

The gangs have been responsible for a wave of violence that has included killings and kidnappings.

Some of those targeted were schoolchildren.