The Nigerian authorities had negotiated with heavily armed gangs to secure the release of the villagers, according to local reports. (PIC-UNI)
Nigerian authorities said they had managed to secure the release of 100 kidnapped villagers on Tuesday.
The residents of Manawa in Nigeria's northwestern Zamfara State were held hostage by heavily armed gangs for 42 days.
What did Nigerian authorities say?
"The Zamfara State Police in collaboration with the State Ministry for Security and Home Affairs have successfully secured the unconditional release of the kidnapped victims," Zamfara State Police spokesperson Muhammad Shehu told reporters on Tuesday.
The gangs usually demand a ransom to release the captives, but in this case, the captives were freed "without giving any financial or material gain," Shehu added.
The police spokesperson said the villagers "will be medically checked and debriefed" before returning to their families.
Who are the bandits?
The gangs operate in the Rugu Forest, which spans the Zamfara, Katsuna and Kadina states in Nigeria. The region is underpoliced, and authorities have struggled to root out the criminal activity.
In addition to kidnapping, the bandits also engage in murder, rape and cattle raiding.
The bandits recently managed to shoot down a Nigerian military plane flying over the region, but the pilot managed to safetly eject and avoid capture.
In addition to the bandits, the Islamic fundamentalist Boko Haram group has frequently carried out mass kidnappings. The Islamic State of West Africa group is also present in parts of Nigeria, most notably the northeast.(AFP)