French priest kidnapped in Cameroon set free -French government

PARIS Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:45am GMT

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PARIS (Reuters) - Georges Vandenbeusch, the French priest kidnapped in northern Cameroon last month, has been released, the office of President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday.

The brief statement said Hollande thanked Cameroonian and Nigerian authorities for their work in securing his release and highlighted the "personal involvement" of Cameroonian President Paul Biya.

The 42-year-old priest had chosen to remain in northern Cameroon, a zone where Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram is known to operate, despite the security threat.

His November 13 kidnapping was the latest in a series of attacks on French targets in Africa since France launched a military intervention in Mali in January to oust al Qaeda Islamists there, who had forged links with Boko Haram. Six French nationals continue to be held hostage in Mali and Syria.

The statement said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius would travel imminently to the Cameroonian capital Yaounde to bring Vandenbeusch back to France.

(Reporting by Mark John; editing by Natalie Huet)

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