By CHINEDU ASADU, Associated Press

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Authorities have rescued five girls who were among 73 schoolchildren abducted this week in northwest Nigeria and reunited them with their parents, police said Thursday.

Zamfara police spokesman Mohammed Shehu did not say how the five students from the Government Day School in Kaya had been freed, except saying only that it happened while authorities were searching for the abducted students.

A statement added that the girls have been “medically checked at the hospital, debriefed by the police and reunited with their families.”

The 73 students were abducted from their school on Wednesday by gunmen, prompting the Zamfara government to shut down all primary and secondary schools in the state.

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More than 1,000 schoolchildren have been kidnapped from schools in Nigeria since December, and UNICEF says some 200 are believed to still be in captivity.

Some of those who have been released in the past months were reported to have been let go only after their parents managed to pay ransoms demanded by their abductors.

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