Missionaries kidnapped by Boko Haram freed in Cameroon

(Photo: mllepetite)

Three missionaries were released this weekend in Cameroon after being held captive for nearly two months by Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram.

Two priests and one nun were taken near the border of Nigeria and Cameroon on April 5, and transported to Cameroon's capital on Sunday.

Italian priests Gianantonio Allegri and Giampaolo Marta, and Canadian nun Gilberte Bussière, served the area for several years before they were kidnapped.

"They were very kind," Maroua Vicar General Rev. Henri Djongang told Reuters. "They liked the population, and they were well liked by the people, too. They helped a lot with the children, in the schools. They helped train teachers."

In April, missionaries were taken from their residences from suspected Boko Haram members. The New York Times reported that in similar kidnapping cases, European hostages were returned for a ransom. It has not been disclosed what the terms of the missionaries' release were. Four kidnappings have taken place in the area in the past 18 months.

Cameroonian Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary confirmed the trio's release, and Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi expressed joy upon hearing the news.

"The Holy Father, who had followed the dramatic story from the outset, was promptly informed. We thank God that this incident has come to a successful conclusion," he said in a statement.

Lombardi also stated that much more needs to be done to combat the violence and injustices in Africa and across the world.

"We continue to pray and to work that every form of violence, hatred, and conflict in the various regions of Africa and in other parts of the world might be overcome; and we renew the memory of, and the commitment to, the many other innocent people of different ages and commitment, who – as we know well – are victims of unacceptable abductions in different places of conflict," he wrote.

The Boko Haram were also behind the kidnapping over 270 children from an all-girls school in Chibok, Nigeria on April 14. A second mass kidnapping occurred on May 4 in Warabe. Nigerian officials announced last week that they know where the girls are, but have not decided how they will bring the victims back safely.