Release of the four nuns kidnapped in Nigeria

Gunmen have freed four nuns they abducted in southeastern Nigeria on Sunday, police said Wednesday.
The four nuns, abducted near the town of Okigwe in Imo state, were released on Tuesday, Imo police spokesman Michael Abattam said on Wednesday. He added that the nuns were “unharmed” but did not say whether a ransom had been paid for their release.
Kidnappings are common in Africa’s most populous country, which has been hit by a severe economic crisis and is plagued by widespread crime. While some hostages are killed, most are released after a ransom is paid.
In recent months, the clergy has been increasingly targeted by criminals, not for religious or ideological reasons, but rather because the Church is perceived to have the capacity to mobilize the faithful to pay ransoms.
South-eastern Nigeria is also experiencing an upsurge in violence attributed to the Independent Movement for the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (Ipob). The Ipob, which seeks a rebirth of a separate state for the Igbo ethnic group, has repeatedly denied responsibility for the violence in the region.
The Republic of Biafra’s declaration of independence led to a 30-month civil war between 1967 and 1970. More than a million people, mainly Igbo, died in the conflict, mostly from starvation and disease.