LAGOS : Two American and two Canadians who were kidnapped in an ambush by gunmen in northern Nigeria this week were freed on Saturday, police said. Nigerian security forces had launched a manhunt after the four were seized on Tuesday evening in the state of Kaduna by kidnappers who shot dead two of their police escorts.

"They have been rescued thanks to the efforts of the police," Kaduna state police spokesman Muktar Aliyu said, adding that they comprised three men and one woman. "All of them are in a good condition of health" and are now in the care of their embassies, he said. Aliyu said they were rescued at about 5 am (0400 GMT) in the same area where they were kidnapped, but declined to give further information, saying it was "classified information". "I cannot confirm if there have been negotiations or a ransom paid," Aliyu added. One person suspected of links to the kidnapping -- the latest abduction targeting foreigners in Nigeria -- has been arrested, he said.

The four North Americans -- whose identities have not been disclosed -- were on private business in Kaduna when they were snatched on the road from the town of Kafanchan to the capital Abuja.

"We are aware of reports of two US citizens kidnapped and released in Nigeria. The safety and security of US citizens overseas are among our top priorities. Due to privacy considerations we have no further comment," a US State Department official told AFP.