15 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who were kidnapped by gunmen in the state of Anambra, in southeast Nigeria, have reportedly been freed, according to the police.

Tochukwu Ikenga, the Anambra State police spokesperson, revealed this in a statement on Tuesday.

Before their car was stopped on Tuesday at a junction in Ihiala, a community in the Ihiala Local Government Area of the Anambra State, Mr. Ikenga claimed the corps members had finished their three-week orientation program at the NYSC Orientation camp in Imo State and were headed to Lagos State.

“Their vehicle was diverted to Isseke-Ihiala-Orlu Expressway where the gunmen kept them hostage,” he said.

The spokesperson claimed that after receiving information about the attack at 11:15 a.m., police agents followed the shooters.

“The armed men noticed they were being followed by police operatives, abandoned the corps members and zoomed off with a Toyota Hiace bus with Reg Nos: EPE 353 YE conveying the corps members,” Mr Ikenga, a deputy superintendent of police, he said.

He noted that “sufficient arrangements have been finalized to transfer them back to their destinations” after the police officers “debriefed” the corps members.

Anambra State has experienced a decline in security, similar to other states in the southeast of Nigeria, as a result of a rise of armed assailants.

Even though a number of people, mostly government officials, have recently been kidnapped and killed in the state, the kidnapping of the corps members was unusual.

The outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which is fighting for a sovereign state for the Igbo-speaking people in the southeast, is blamed for the attacks, which were mostly directed at security and government officials.

However, the gang has consistently denied taking part in the attacks.