ABUJA: Nigerian police have freed 27 hostages kidnapped in recent weeks, police officials said Thursday, including five Chinese citizens.
Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria. For many years, kidnappings were concentrated on workers in the oil-rich south, but attacks are now common across large parts of the country.
Many of those rescued were freed from northwestern Zamfara state, but also from other parts of the country, police said in a statement.
Police said the five Chinese citizens, kidnapped on April 15 in Bobi in central Niger state, were freed on May 5 in a forest in Birnin Gwari in neighbouring Kaduna state.
Their release came after "painstaking investigative efforts, including both air and ground surveillance."
Two kidnappers were shot dead in the rescue mission, but the five hostages were unhurt. No other details were given.
The announcement of the release of the hostages came as Nigerian police chief Mohammed Abubakar Adamu launched the latest bid to stem the crime wave with "new counter-kidnapping operational strategies."
Police said that in the first four months of 2019, a total of 270 suspected kidnappers and 275 suspected armed robbers were arrested.
"The operation will involve the deployment of undercover operatives, decoy operations and high-level tactical missions," Adamu said.