A French priest working in Northern Cameroon was kidnapped on Wednesday, an abduction that local sources believe was carried out by Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram.
According to Missionary International News Service Agency (MISNA), Fr. Georges Vandenbeusch was abducted in the evening by a group of kidnappers at a local parish in the town of Nguetchwe.
“The kidnapping of Father Georges, parish-priest of a poor, remote land of mission, caused great surprise and concern,” a source from the Catholic Church in Douala told MISNA. “It is the first time that someone who serves the people is targeted. Search operations are underway and many attribute the kidnapping to Boko Haram members who crossed over from neighboring Nigeria,”
Boko Haram has carried out several attacks throughout Nigeria against churches and other Christian places of worship and has also targeted Islamic leaders in the country who they deem as moderate.
The area where the kidnapping took place is located near the border with Nigeria and is a known haven for Nigerian terrorist who cross the border seeking refuge. French authorities have formally warned that any citizens visiting that area are “at high risk of terrorism and kidnapping.” Despite the warnings, Fr. Georges decided continue his mission in Nguetchwe.
Several witnesses living near the parish said that several unidentified individuals came to the town searching for money. They returned in the evening and raided the priest’s residence. Prior to being taken, the French priest managed to alert local authorities and the French embassy, but upon their arrival, it was too late.
The witnesses also stated that Fr. Vandenbeusch was taken away barefoot and placed in a motorcycle driven by one of the kidnappers, heading towards the Nigerian border.
Authorities from both France and Cameroon are working together to secure Fr. Vandenbeusch’s release. (J.A.E.)