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French priest kidnapped in Cameroon freed

31 December 2013, 13:22

Paris - A French priest kidnapped in Cameroon in mid-November has been set free, President Francois Hollande's office said on Tuesday.

Georges Vandenbeusch was kidnapped by heavily armed men on 13 November in the far north of Cameroon, about 30km from the border with Nigeria.

The radical Islamic sect Boko Haram operates in the area, the Koza region. The zone has been flagged as a risk for terrorism and kidnapping, but the priest chose to stay on to "exercise his mission," the French foreign ministry said at the time.

In a statement from his office, the French president thanked authorities in Cameroon and Nigeria for their "relentless" efforts in helping to free the priest. He "particularly" thanked Cameroon President Paul Biya for personally working on the case.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was heading to Cameroon's capital, Yaounde, to bring Vandenbeusch home, the statement said.

Boko Haram has waged a campaign of bombings and shootings across Nigeria's north. The group has been held responsible for more than 790 deaths last year and many dozens more this year.

This year, a French expatriate family with four young children was kidnapped at gunpoint by Boko Haram in Cameroon's far north and held for two months, reportedly in neighboring Nigeria.

Six French citizens continue to be held hostage in Mali and in Syria.

- AP


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