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French priest kidnapped in Cameroon

14 November 2013, 21:58

Paris - A French priest has been kidnapped in northern Cameroon, the French foreign ministry said on Thursday, just months after Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram captured a French family in the same region.

The ministry said checks are under way to establish the circumstances and the identity of the kidnappers.

Georges Vandenbeusch was seized in the night of Wednesday to Thursday in the region of Koza, some 30km  from the Nigerian border, the ministry said.

Vandenbeusch had been a priest in the Paris suburb of Sceaux until he left for Cameroon in 2011, the ministry said, adding he had decided to stay in the region - which France considers to be high risk for kidnappings - even though he was aware of the risks involved.

Boko Haram kidnapped a French family of seven on holiday in northern Cameroon in February and released them in April.

French President Francois Hollande denied at the time that a ransom was paid, but a confidential Nigerian government report obtained by Reuters said Boko Haram was paid an equivalent of around $3.15m by French and Cameroonian negotiators to free them.

The United States formally designated Boko Haram and the Nigerian Islamist militant group Ansaru as foreign terrorist organizations on Wednesday, making it a crime to provide them with material support.

Alain Marsaud, a French lawmaker representing voters based overseas, told France Info radio that Vandenbeusch was 42 and had been meeting some nuns and other people when armed men took him away, leaving on foot.

- Reuters


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