Brave and Dedicated French Priest Kidnapped by Suspected Islamists in Cameroon
ICC Note: Cameroon is experiencing spillover violence from the Islamist insurgency in neighboring Nigeria. Many Boko Haram fighters have taken refuge in the country, and stage from there when raiding into Nigeria.
11/14/2013 Cameroon (Washington Post) – A French priest was kidnapped from his northern Cameroon parish home by heavily armed men in a region where the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram operates, eyewitnesses and French officials said Thursday.
The gunmen fired into the air as they fled on motorbikes with their captive, one witness said.
Georges Vandenbeusch was kidnapped in the region of Koza, in the extreme north of the country, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the border with Nigeria. 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.
The ministry said it was trying to verify the identity of the gunmen and circumstances of the kidnapping, which eye witnesses said happened late Wednesday. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the deputy prefect of the region, Ouhe Kolande, said Boko Haram was suspected.
The group has waged a campaign of bombings and shootings across Nigeria’s north. They are held responsible for more than 790 deaths last year, and many dozens more this year.
Earlier this year a French expatriate family with four young children were kidnapped at gunpoint in Cameroon’s far north and held for two months by Boko Haram, reportedly in neighboring Nigeria.
“For some time now they’ve been attacking Christians in the area,” Kolonde said.