– A 71-year-old Seattle missionary abducted last month from a school in Nigeria has been released and is safe, the Free Methodist Church USA said Friday.

In a statement on the church website, Bishop David Kendall said the Rev. Phyllis Sortor was released Friday evening, Nigeria time, "into the care of authorities and Free Methodist Church leaders."

Armed men abducted her Feb. 23 from the Hope Academy compound in Emiworo, Kogi state.

"We are deeply grateful to all who prayed for Phyllis' safe return and praise God the family representative was able to secure her release," Kendall said in his statement.

He provided no details about how the release was arranged.

"As a matter of sound policy, and to help protect the many, many people who helped secure Phyllis' freedom, we will have no comment concerning the efforts that were undertaken to secure her release," the bishop said.

Kogi State police said shortly after the abduction that the men who took Sortor had demanded a ransom of nearly $300,000.

Police said they were collaborating with security forces to secure her return.

Friends described Sortor as courageous, tenacious and passionate about helping the people of Nigeria and said she was aware of the dangers.

"Phyllis was aware there were risks associated with her ministry, but also knew there are very few places in the world without risks and dangers," Kendall's statement said.

Nigeria is one of the world's worst countries for kidnapping, a major criminal enterprise that makes millions of dollars a year.

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