Twenty-nine wedding guests abducted nearly two weeks ago in the north-western Nigerian state of Zamfara have been freed.
They were kidnapped by gunmen who ambushed a convoy of their vehicles while returning home from neighbouring Sokoto state where they had attended the wedding of one of their colleagues.
The victims were mobile phone dealers from a popular phone market known as Bebeji Plaza in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara state.
The head of the market, Ibrahim Kado, was among those who received the released abductees on Thursday evening.
He told the BBC the victims were in a “pathetic condition” because they looked exhausted and not well fed.
He said one of the captives was seriously ill that he had to undergo a blood transfusion and given intravenous fluids in hospital when they were freed.
Mr Kado said “no matter how inhuman a person might be, they must feel moved” on seeing see the freed hostages.
The market leader however expressed happiness that the captives had finally been freed. He declined to comment on whether a ransom payment was made.
But another colleague of the victims told the BBC that a ransom had been paid after negotiations with the abductors.
The authorities have not yet commented on the release of the hostages.
Soon after their kidnap, a police spokesperson told the BBC that a search-and-rescue effort had been launched.
Killings and kidnappings for ransom by armed criminal gangs have become common across Nigeria – especially in the north-west region – with thousands either seized or killed since the beginning of this year alone.