Altar in the Catholic Church in Bauchi, northeast Nigeria. (Photo: World Watch Monitor, 2010)
Catholic church in Bauchi, northeast Nigeria. (Photo: World Watch Monitor, 2010)

Six Catholic nuns from a convent in the southern Nigerian state of Edo were released on Sunday (7 January), two months after they were kidnapped by armed men.

The nuns, belonging to the Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Christ, were released after police intervention and were said to be unhurt, the Nigerian Vanguard newspaper reports.

According to Super-General of the Catholic Convent, Sister Agatha Osarekhoe, no ransom was paid for their release, although kidnappers initially demanded N20 million (US$ 55,500).

Pope Francis appealed for their release in December, and Archbishop Alfred Martin of Lagos called on the authorities to do more to locate and free the women.

Kidnapping is not uncommon in Nigeria, where militias and rebel groups use it to advance their political or religious cause.

In August last year, three women and a baby were abducted, and a father and son killed, in Nigeria’s northern state of Kano, in what appeared to be a religiously motivated attack to uproot Christians from the largely Muslim area.

Then in October a British optician was kidnapped and killed in the country’s lawless southern Delta region.

World Watch Monitor has also reported regularly on the Chibok schoolgirls, who were abducted by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in 2014.