Nigeria's freed boys tell of beatings and hunger

Tired, hungry and dazed - Nigeria's freed schoolboys arrived back home on Friday (December 18), having been rescued from their captors.

As they got off buses in the city of Katsina, many of them appeared to be barefoot and were wrapped in blankets after a week-long ordeal.

Gunmen on motorbikes had raided the Government Science Secondary School in the town of Kankara in Katsina state - and more than 300 of them were marched into a vast forest.

Authorities say security services rescued them on Thursday.

However, many details surrounding the incident remain unclear, including who was responsible, whether a ransom was paid, how the boys' release was secured and whether all of them are now safe.

One boy, who did not give his name, said the captors had told him to describe them as members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram - although he suspected they were armed bandits.

Speaking to Nigeria's Arise television, he said, quote, "They beat us morning, every night. We suffered a lot."

Another told Reuters that they had barely been fed.

"They hid us all in the same place when they took us at first, but when they saw a jet fighter, they changed the location and hid us in a different place. They gave us food but it was very little."

The abduction has gripped a country already wracked by widespread insecurity.

It brought back painful memories of Boko Haram's 2014 kidnapping of more than 270 schoolgirls in the northeastern town of Chibok.

Any Boko Haram involvement in this kidnapping in Katsina state would mark a geographical expansion in its activities - from its base in northeast Nigeria.