According to local Nigerian media reports, six girls and two staff members of a Christian high school in the north-central part of the country have been released after a ransom was paid. However, all eight were tortured during their ordeal.
Morning Star News reports the girls and staff members were kidnapped at gunpoint on Oct. 3 from the Engravers' College in Kakau Daji village, Chikun County near Kaduna city.
Local authorities suspect armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen carried out the attack against the school. The Fulani are responsible for numerous kidnappings and attacks in the southern Kaduna state of Nigeria.
Shunom Giwa, vice-principal of the high school, previously told Morning Star News that initially five armed Fulani appeared at the door of his house. Other men arrived shortly after and they told him to lie down, but he escaped.
The kidnapped group was released by their Fulani captors on Oct. 26, one of the girls' parents told members of the Nigerian press.
"Several people prayed in churches and mosques," Ohemu Fredrick told reporters. "Through their prayers, God brought us help. God used a former governor of Kaduna state to assist us."
Fredrick did not identify the former governor's name or the ransom amount. He said the former official offered the children and staff members free medical treatment. The hostages were reportedly tortured each time the kidnappers called the parents so they could hear their screams, according to another parent who wasn't identified.
That parent reportedly said that after the kidnappers set the group free, police picked them up and dropped them off near a toll gate about five kilometers (three miles) from the city center.
The school, which is open to both Christian and non-Christian students, has a secular curriculum in accordance with Nigeria's Ministry of Education. Still, the curriculum is taught from a Christian perspective, and students take Christian Religious Knowledge as a subject, an official told Morning Star News.
The school has a student population of 100, but continuing violence within the West African nation has compelled some parents to withdraw their children.
The village lies within an area known as "the kidnapping belt" and is on the route to Kwanti village, where Morning Star News last year reported the alleged kidnapping of several Christians by armed Fulani herdsmen.
Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors' 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
"Although the Nigerian government claims to have made headway against Boko Haram, it seems incapable of responding to the attacks on Christian communities by the (militant) Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen," noted Yonas Dembele, persecution analyst at World Watch Research, who's quoted in a video on the Nigeria page on the Open Doors USA website.