Two South Africans, held captive in a forest hideout in Nigeria, freed

Abuja - Two South Africans kidnapped in Nigeria were released on Saturday, police said, in the latest abduction targeting foreigners.

"Police put pressure on the suspected kidnappers using a police helicopter," police spokesperson Jimoh Moshood said in a statement.

Thomas Arnold Pearce and Hendrik Gideon were seized from a mining site in Maidaro, in Kaduna State, on January 23 and held captive in a forest hideout.

Their case was not made public at the time.

It comes a week after two Americans and two Canadians were released after being kidnapped in the same state during a business trip.

Two of their police escorts were shot dead in that ambush near Jere, on the road from the town of Kafanchan to the state capital of Abuja.

Kidnapping hot spot

Kidnapping has long been a problem in Nigeria's southern states, where high-profile individuals, including the families of prominent politicians, are regularly seized.

But as the economy has stalled in recent years, the crime began creeping north.

A crackdown on cattle rustling has been blamed for rising numbers of abductions in the north, with criminals turning to kidnapping.

The Kaduna-Abuja road is notoriously unsafe. It is an approximately two-and-a-half hour journey by car through villages and past tracts of fields and forests.

Safety on the route came under intense scrutiny last year when the federal government announced the closure of the capital's only airport for essential runway repairs.

Many foreign missions and companies advised staff to limit their travel during the closure period, as all domestic and some international flights were switched to Kaduna.

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