Two Canadian women who were abducted earlier this month in Ghana have been rescued, and their names have been released.
Ghana’s Information Ministry said the rescue operation was completed early Wednesday in the south-central Ashanti region. No other details were immediately available from the ministry.
But the Canadian government said in an email to CBC on Wednesday that it’s “very relieved to confirm” the release of the women, whose names were disclosed by non-governmental organization Youth Challenge International as Lauren Tilley and Bailey Chitty.
On its website, the organization said both women were getting support from professionals and that they were physically unhurt.
“The parents of both young women have been in contact with their daughters and at this time wish to express their extreme gratitude to the Ghanaian police, the Ghanaian government and the Canadian government for all their support and actions throughout this extremely difficult time,” the website said.
The two, aged 19 and 20, had been abducted at the Kumasi Royal Golf Club at 8:25 p.m. local time on June 4, said a news release issued by the Ghana Police Service.
Police had not disclosed their names, but said they’re volunteers with Youth Challenge International. The two women are studying at Renaissance College with the University of New Brunswick. Tilley is originally from Rothesay, N. B., about 18 kilometres north of Saint John. Chitty is from Amherst, N.S., a town that borders the province of New Brunswick.
“Bailey and Lauren are receiving emotional and psychological support from professionals as they travel home,” Youth Challenge International said in the news release. “Medical reports are that they are both physically unhurt. At this time, we are unable to comment on the police actions, the rescue or the perpetrators of the abduction.”
Global Affairs Canada also said consular officials are providing assistance to the two women and their families.
“Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, and out of respect to these two Canadians who have been through harrowing experiences, no further information will be disclosed,” Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé said in the email.
Francisca Forson, a freelance journalist in Accra, told CBC News Network that two people have been arrested, and the Information Ministry will hold a news conference at 3 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET) to provide more details about the rescue operation.
The ministry has sought to assure travellers that the West African nation remains safe despite a recent uptick in kidnappings for ransom. The country has been considered one of the safest in the region for foreign travellers.
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This was the second time in about a month that foreigners were targeted in the city of Kumasi. An Indian national earlier was abducted and rescued.
Ghana’s president has vowed to crack down on kidnappers amid fears the abductions could harm tourism.
Forson said the Ghana Tourism Authority that regulates the industry has shut down the hostel where the two Canadians were lodging after doing inspections.
“They were operating without a licence, and they shut that down, and they also issued a warning that they would be tougher with other hostels or hotels where foreigners are lodged,” she said.
“So there’s efforts on the part of the authorities to ensure that foreigners do not feel unsafe and are able to come here.”