A group of 42 university students has been released hours after being kidnapped by gunmennear Mosul, the capital city of Nineveh province, on Sunday, a provincial police source said.
"The kidnapped students have been released by an operation conducted by our security forces," said Brigadier Khalid Abdul-Sattar, adding that details about the operation will be revealedat a news conference later in the day.
The gunmen earlier intercepted a bus carrying students from Mosul University near the Jerin village, some 20 km south of Mosuland kidnapped 42 of them, said the military official. The students coming from villages in Qaiyyarah town, some 60 kmsouth of Mosul City, are heading to Mosul University when the gunmen attacked their bus, he added.
Local police believed the attackers were affiliated with the al-Qaida network, which has regrouped in the province after beingdriven from their strongholds in Baghdad and other provinces ofAnbar and Salahudin, said Sattar.
Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, has been the hotspot of insurgency since the U.S.-led invasion five years ago.