Kidnappers have released the remaining 14 students who had been held captive after being abducted last month from a northern Nigerian university, officials said.

Armed groups have repeatedly attacked schools and universities in northwest Nigeria in the last few months, abducting more than 700 students for ransom since December. The inability of security forces to crack down on kidnapping gangs has sparked protests against perceived government inaction.

Armed men had stormed Greenfield University in the northwestern state of Kaduna on April 20. They killed one person during the raid and, in the days after the attack, murdered five of those they took.

“Fourteen of the abducted students of the university have been freed,” Simeon Nwakacha, pro-chancellor of Greenfield University, told Reuters news agency by phone on Saturday. He said the 14 were the remaining students being held.

Kaduna state’s security commissioner, Samuel Aruwan, said in a statement 14 people taken from the university had been freed and had been found beside a road connecting Kaduna and the capital Abuja on Saturday at about 2pm local time (13:00 GMT).

It was not immediately clear if the hostages were released in exchange for a ransom payment.

Kidnap for ransom has become common in the last few years in many parts of Nigeria, with businessmen, officials and citizens snatched from the streets by criminals looking for ransom money.

The gangs are largely driven by financial motives and have no known ideological leanings. But there are concerns they are being infiltrated by rebel groups.

At least $11m was paid to kidnappers between January 2016 and March 2020, according to SB Morgen, a Lagos-based geopolitical research consultancy.

President Muhammadu Buhari urged state governments in February to review their policy of “rewarding bandits with money and vehicles”.

This content was originally published here.

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