Three men kidnapped from their Christian college chapel in Nigeria have been released, prompting "a symphony of praises" from staff, students, parents and Christians across the country.
The fourth-year theology students were set free by their abductors 48 hours after they were taken from Christ the King Seminary, near Kafanchan, in Nigeria's Middle Belt on Monday.
More than 130 seminarians were on site when the attackers struck just after 7.20pm. As well as abducting the three students, six others were injured and rushed to hospital but were quickly released after being declared in a "stable" condition.
In a message sent to religious freedom charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Father Emmanuel Uchechukwu Okolo, Chancellor of the Diocese of Kafanchan, said: "With hearts filled with joy, we raise our voices in a symphony of praises as we announce the return of our three major seminarians, who were abducted by armed persons."
In another message, Father Emmanuel Faweh Kazah, a teacher at the seminary, said: "We were beaten but we won't stay down. We won't allow ourselves to be cowed by threats emanating from men and women of the underworld.
"We will courageously carry the torch of the gospel to the ends of the earth, notwithstanding the barrage of attacks on the Christian faith."
Hours before the release of the theology students, Bishop Julius Kundi of Kafanchan, celebrated Mass at the seminary for the start of the academic year and consoled staff and students.
He said: "It is 'trusting in the Lord' that anchors our hearts. We need a strong faith to have a strong heart. And we need that strength now more than ever."
Christians are under severe pressure in Nigeria from Boko Haram militants in the north and extremist Fulani fighters.
Some Church figures have spoken of a "slow genocide" which is worsened by Nigeria's deepening financial problems, which have caused a spike in abductions demanding ransoms.
Church leaders have declared a policy of not paying ransoms.