Nigerian security forces on Thursday rescued five girls out of 73 students kidnapped the previous day from a high school in the restive northwest, police said.
Gunmen stormed a secondary school in Kaya in the Maradun area of Zamfara state on Wednesday in the latest mass abductions targeting schools and colleges.
Kidnapping for ransom has become a grim trend in northwest and central Nigeria, with around 1,000 students snatched this year – most of them later released.
In a statement, Zamfara police spokesman Mohammed Shehu said a joint security team swung into action.
“The ongoing search and rescue mission is yielding positive result as five abducted female students were today rescued,” he said.
Shehu did not say if ransom was paid for the release. Nigerian police rarely admit paying ransom money.
“The victims were medically checked at the hospital, debriefed by the police and reunited… with their families,” he added.
Following the abduction, Zamfara officials imposed night-time road travel restrictions and temporarily closed primary and secondary schools.
Northwest and central states have for years been troubled by tit-for-tat attacks and community raids between nomadic herders and local farmers who clash over water and land.
But violence has escalated sharply with the emergence of large criminal gangs who steal cattle, raid and loot villages and kidnap for ransom.
President Muhammadu Buhari, a former soldier first elected in 2015, is under pressure over insecurity.
The armed forces have launched military raids and air strikes on bandit camps, but gunmen have kept up attacks and abductions.
Four states across the northwest, including Zamfara, have introduced restrictions including limiting motorbike traffic, restricting fuel sales and also suspending cattle markets and transport.
Armed gangs often arrive on motorbikes during their abduction attacks and also engage in castle rustling.
They operate out of camps hidden in forests in northwest Nigeria, often raiding and abducting in one state and crossing back with their victims into another state.
This year bandits have turned their sights on schools, seminaries and colleges across the region, herding children and students deep into forest hideouts while they negotiate ransom payments.
Many students have been released only after spending weeks or months in captivity but dozens are still being held.