4th June, 2014

Two Italian priests and a Canadian nun have been freed, two months after they were kidnapped in northern Cameroon by suspected Islamic militants, the Vatican and Italian officials said earlier this week.

Gunmen abducted Gianantonio Allegri, Giampaolo Marta and nun Gilberte Bussier on 5th April and well-informed Vatican Radio said it wasn't ruled out that Islamic group Boko Haram was behind their kidnappings.

The Italian Foreign Ministry thanked Canadian and Cameroon authorities, but declined to say where or when the abduction ended.

Pope Francis, "who had followed the dramatic story from the outset was promptly informed", about their release, said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, a Jesuit priest.

"We thank God that this incident has come to a successful conclusion," he said in a statement monitored by BosNewsLife.

"At the same time 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."

He said it was crucial to remember "the many other innocent people of different ages...who - as we know well - are victims of unacceptable abductions in different places of conflict."

A French priest abducted in northern Cameroon late last year was released in January, though there was never any claim of responsibility.

Boko Haram, which means 'Western education is sinful' has weighed a 5-year-old Islamic uprising in nearby northeastern Nigeria that has claimed the lives of thousands of Christians and Muslims.

They include more than 1,500 people killed in attacks so far this year on churches and other sites.

Other Muslim groups have also been involved in raids on often predominantly Christian villages in the region.

Boko Haram has ordered Christians to leave areas where it is mostly active. as part of a wider crackdown on Christianity, rights groups and other observers say.

- BosNewsLife