Nigeria school abduction: Hundreds of girls released by gunmen.
The girls were abducted by unidentified gunmen from their private school in Jangebe, Zamfara state, on Friday and brought to a forest, police said.
The state’s governor said on Tuesday that the group had been freed and therefore the girls were now safe.
Such kidnappings are administered for ransom and are common within the north.
Dozens of the women were seen gathered at a building in Zamfara after they were taken there during a fleet of mini-buses.
“It gladdens my heart to announce the discharge of the abducted students… from captivity,” Governor Bello Matawalle wrote on Twitter.
“This follows the scaling of several hurdles laid against our efforts,” he added. “I enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to rejoice with us as our daughters are now safe.”
The authorities said 279 girls had been freed, adding that a figure given last week by police that 317 had been kidnapped was not accurate.
One official told Reuters press agency that the discrepancy was thanks to the very fact that some girls had fled shortly after being abducted.
The group’s release was secured through negotiations between officialdom and therefore the abductors, authorities in Zamfara state told the BBC.
Mr Matawalle has denied paying for the women to be released, but last week President Muhammadu Buhari admitted state governments had paid kidnappers “with money and vehicles” within the past and urged them to review the policy.
President Buhari said he felt “overwhelming joy” at the news of the girls’ release. “[I am] pleased that their ordeal has come to a cheerful end with none incident,” he said.
The 2014 kidnap of 276 schoolgirls within the north-eastern town of Chibok by Islamist militants Boko Haram brought global attention to the scourge of raids on schools in Nigeria, but a surge in recent attacks is suspected to be the work of criminal gangs.
The raid in Zamfara state was the region’s second kidnapping in recent weeks. Some 27 students were kidnapped from a private school in Kagara within the north-central state of Niger last month before they were released on 17 February.
No group has said they were liable for the Zamfara kidnappings.
Armed groups operating within the state often kidnap for ransom but when gunmen took quite 300 boys from Kankara in neighbouring Katsina state in December last year, some reports said Boko Haram, which operates many miles away within the north-east, was behind the attack.
The reports were later disputed and therefore the boys released after negotiations.