Nigeria: release of four kidnapped nuns

Gunmen have freed four nuns they abducted in southeastern Nigeria on Sunday, police said on Wednesday.

the four sisters, kidnapped near Okigwe town in Imo state were released on Tuesday, Imo police spokesman Michael Abattam said. He added that the nuns were "unscathed" but did not say whether a ransom had been paid to secure their release.

Kidnappings are frequent in Africa's most populous country, hit by a serious economic crisis and grappling with near-generalized crime.

While some hostages are sometimes killed, most are released after payment of a ransom.

In recent months, the clergy have been increasingly targeted by criminals a priori not for religious or ideological reasons, but rather because the Church is perceived to have the ability to mobilize the faithful to pay the ransoms.

Southeast Nigeria is also experiencing an upsurge in violence blamed on the Independence Movement for the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (Ipob). The Ipob, which seeks a revival of a separate state for the Igbo ethnic group, has repeatedly denied responsibility for the violence in the region.

The proclamation of independence by the Republic of Biafra led to a 30-month civil war between 1967 and 1970. The conflict left more than a million dead, mostly Igbo, mostly from starvation and disease.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

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