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Nigeria: Bandits Free Zamfara Health Workers, Return N5 Million Ransom

Residents said cattle herders, who are committed to finding lasting peace with the Dansadau farming communities, played a role in freeing the hostages.

The gunmen who kidnapped three health workers inZamfara State last Saturday along the Gusau Dansadau highway in Maru Local Governmen, have released the hostages.

The bandits, as the gunmen, terrorising the state and the rest of the northwest region, are called by the Nigerian media, also returned a N5 million ransom paid for the release of the health workers.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the gunmen ambushed the health workers including Muhammad Mansur, a medical doctor, in charge of Dansadau General Hospital Dansadau, in the Maru council area.

Mr Mansur, who appears to be surrounded by sympathisers confirmed their release to our reporter in a brief telephone response Friday morning.

The hostages were released Friday morning.

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Residents said cattle herders who are committed to a lasting peace with the Dansadau farming communities, intervened and secured the release of the health workers as well as stopping the payment of the N5 million ransom the bandits demanded.

A traditional ruler, Mustapha Umar, said the concerned cattle herders escorted the ransom bearer, Sama'ila Nagogo, to the delivery location and caught the armed bandits, and took them to their superiors.

They (cattle herders) asked them to free the suspects and returned the N5 million ransom which they did, the traditional ruler said.

"The ransom was returned to the owner, Mamman Tsafe, whose children were among the kidnapped victims.

"We learned that the bandits are popular in the area and probably not aware of the peace truce entered between the crop farmers and the cattle herders in the Dansadau Emirate, " the traditional ruler said.

Peace dialogue

The residents of Dansadau had entered a truce last year with cattle herders, including armed bandits, in the district.

The truce was reached after years of tit-for-tat attacks in the area.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how a bandits' kingpin, Ali Kacallah, initiated the peace dialogue when he sent emissaries to the Dansadau community.

Dansadau is about 97 kilometres from Gusau, Zamfara State capital, and is vulnerable to attack by bandits. The area sits at the edge of a forest of ungoverned boundaries with Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi, and Niger states.

The community realised it could not wait for the government to secure the area and thus agreed to co-habit peacefully with the bandits.

Artmotion S.Africa

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