Two Canadian women who were abducted earlier this month in Ghana have been rescued, and their names have been released.
Ghana's Ministry of Information said the rescue operation was completed early Wednesday in the south-central Ashanti region.
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 Youth Challenge International, the non-governmental organization with which they were volunteering, 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 statement on the site said.
The two, ages 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.
The two women are studying at Renaissance College with the University of New Brunswick (UNB).
Tilley is originally from Rothesay, N. B., a suburban community on the outskirts 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."
Two Canadian women who were kidnapped in Ghana have been released, Ghana's Information Ministry and Global Affairs Canada confirm. (CBC)
At a news conference Wednesday, officials with the Information Ministry said the women have been flown to Accra, Ghana's capital.
The ministry said security officers in Ghana surrounded the location where the women were held just before 5 a.m. local time Wednesday. By 5:15 a.m., the team had "breached the premises," and gunshots were fired.
Five Ghanians and three Nigerians are in custody. One of the suspects sustained minor injuries.
The ministry said an interrogation process is ongoing, which will determine whether more arrests will be made.
No ransom was paid
The ministry said no ransom was paid or discussed between the suspects and security agents in Ghana, and there was no foreign involvement in the operation.
The ministry said the "Canadian team was in town to explore ways in which they could help, but that was not necessary. Our people on the ground have clarity on what to do. And the result is what you see currently."
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," spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé said by email.
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.
CBC News also asked for an interview with UNB, which wouldn't comment about last week's kidnapping.
"The university will not be issuing anything publicly about this situation, and we ask our community to do the same," said spokesperson Natasha Ashfield in an emailed statement.
"Even though we're incredibly pleased to see a successful resolution, we need to respect the privacy of our students and their families."
President vows crackdown on kidnappers
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, Nana Akufo-Addo, has vowed to crack down on kidnappers amid fears the abductions could harm tourism.
Francisca Forson, a freelance journalist in Accra, 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."