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(LifeSiteNews) — Four Nigerian religious sisters, who were kidnapped on Sunday while on their way to Mass, have been released just days later.

“With hearts full of joy, the Sisters of Jesus the Savior wish to announce the unconditional and safe release of four of our sisters who were abducted around Okigwe-Umulolo axis on the 21st of August 2022,” announced Sr. Zita Ihedoro, Secretary-General of the order, on Tuesday.

READ: Four religious sisters kidnapped in Nigeria on their way to Mass

Imo state police spokesman Michael Abattam confirmed the release to AFP News Agency on Wednesday, saying the sisters were “unhurt.”

While details about the identity of the kidnappers have not been shared, and the reason for the sisters’ abduction has not been confirmed, it has come amid a rash of now-common “extortion kidnappings” in Nigeria, which often target members of the Catholic Church, especially clergy.

Security expert David Otto, director of the Geneva Center for Africa Security and Strategic Studies, told CNA in July that his group believes the Catholic Church is “being targeted because it has been paying the steep ransoms the terrorists have demanded, which can be as high as $200,000, or more,” CNA shared.

An “unconditional” release, as was reportedly the case with these four sisters, is remarkable.

“Today is a memorable day for us. Therefore, we wish to share this joy with all men and women of goodwill, who in one way or the other contributed to the quick and safe release of our dear sisters,” wrote Sr. Ihedoro in the release announcement.

“We sincerely appreciate and thank you for your prayers and moral support during this difficult moment. May Jesus the Saviour whom we have come to serve, bless, protect and provide for you, especially in times of difficulty,” Sr. Ihedoro continued.

Not all Catholic religious have survived recent abductions in Nigeria. Father John Cheitnum was killed after being captured on July 15, even as his fellow kidnapped priest, Father Donatus Suleiman, escaped.

The risk in Nigeria of being a Catholic religious, or even simply a Catholic, is multiplied by Islamic persecution. Muslim terror groups, including the notorious Boko Haram, have continued in recent years to commit atrocities against the Nigerian clergy.

At least three churches in Nigeria suffered murderous terrorist attacks in the month of June resulting in more than 75 deaths and numerous kidnappings. On June 5 at St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo in the state of Ondo, armed attackers slaughtered 40 worshippers and left 87 hospitalized.

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