Security forces have rescued two Canadian women who were abducted in Ghana earlier this month and arrested eight people in connection with their kidnapping, authorities said on Wednesday.
The pair were named as Lauren Tilley and Bailey Chitty by Youth Challenge International, an international development organisation headquartered in Toronto.
“Bailey and Lauren are receiving emotional and psychological support from professionals as they travel home. Medical reports are that they are both physically unhurt,” the group said in a statement.
The women, aged 19 and 20, have been flown to the capital, Accra.
“Preliminary investigations show they are fine and are receiving the necessary attention,” said the Ghanaian information minister, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, adding that the operation began overnight Tuesday and lasted less than half an hour.
Oppong-Nkrumah denied that the abductors had been paid off, and said “there was no mention or discussion of ransom” during the rescue operation.
Police later arrested five Ghanaians and three Nigerians in Kumasi, Ghana’s second-largest city.
Guillaume Berube, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, said the government was “very relieved” that the women had been released. No further details would be shared in order to protect their privacy, he said.
Kidnappings for ransom have been all too common for years in Nigeria, and officials in Ghana say they are on the rise there too.
Ghana has long been considered one of the least dangerous countries in west Africa, but the women’s abductions marked the second time in a month that foreigners had been targeted in Kumasi. A previous rescue effort freed an Indian national.
The information minister maintained that Ghana remained safe for foreign travelers.
“The country’s risk profile has not changed,” he said.