Canadian nun, Italian priests freed after captivity

MONTREAL — A Canadian nun and two Italian priests have been freed two months after they were abducted by armed groups in northern Cameroon, authorities said Sunday.

MONTREAL — A Canadian nun and two Italian priests have been freed two months after they were abducted by armed groups in northern Cameroon, authorities said Sunday.

Gilberte Bussiere, a 74-year-old originally from Asbestos, Que., was kidnapped on April 5 along with Gianantonio Allegri and Giampaolo Marta.

All three had been working as missionaries in the country.

Bussiere’s cousin, Michel Belanger, who still lives in Asbestos, said the family felt relief after weeks of worry.

“We were almost expecting the worst,” he told The Canadian Press. “But now, everything has changed, everything is fine. So we’re very happy.”

A member of Montreal’s Congregation de Notre-Dame, Bussiere arrived in Cameroon in 1979 and lived there ever since, working as an educator.

She returned to Canada briefly last year for health reasons, but soon went back “to the country and the people she loved,” according to the congregation.

Bussiere required medication and the family was concerned she would suffer without access to medical care, Belanger said.

Bussiere’s congregation said she was reportedly in good health when she was freed. She was taken to Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital, and placed in the care of the congregation.

“It is with great joy that the Sisters of the Congregation de Notre-Dame have learned (on Sunday) of the release of Sister Gilberte Bussiere and fathers Marta and Allegri,” the congregation said in a statement on its website.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs department said in a statement its officials have been “in regular contact with the family to provide assistance and to provide consular support to the Canadian citizen.”

The priests were assigned from the Vicenza diocese in northern Italy.

The Italian Foreign Ministry thanked Canadian and Cameroon authorities but gave no details of how the abduction ended.

The Italian Foreign Ministry cautions against travel in the area where they were abducted, 30 kilometres from the border with Nigeria “in consideration of the risk of kidnappings due to presence of jihadist elements coming from Nigeria.”

At the time of the abductions, Vatican Radio said it wasn’t ruled out that Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic group, might have been behind their kidnappings.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Pope Francis had followed the case from the beginning.

“We thank the Lord that this case reached a positive conclusion,” Lombardi said, adding a thought for others who have been abducted in conflict zones.

“At the same time, we continue to pray and commit ourselves so that every form of violence, hate and conflict in various regions of Africa and in other parts of the world can be overcome.”

Boko Haram’s five-year-old Islamic uprising based in northeastern Nigeria has claimed the lives of thousands of Muslims and Christians, including more than 1,500 people killed in attacks so far this year. A French priest abducted in northern Cameroon late last year was released in January, though there was never any claim of responsibility.

– with files from Louis Cloutier and The Associated Press

Follow (at)benshingler on Twitter

Just Posted

Bringing music to Red Deer for 50 years

The Red Deer Community Band Society has been bringing music to the… Continue reading

Guards injured, money stolen, during overnight blast at Edmonton bank

EDMONTON — Two security guards have been injured in an explosion that… Continue reading

Pot stores on agenda at Toronto city council after two municipalities opt out

TORONTO — Councillors in Toronto are set to debate whether to allow… Continue reading

Police believe body found near Mexican resort is missing Quebec woman

MONTREAL — Mexican authorities have found the body of a woman near… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Sex assault trial for former gymnastics coach resumes in Sarnia

SARNIA, Ont. — The trial of a former high-ranking gymnastics coach accused… Continue reading

Victims of former ski coach Charest say they were ‘sacrificed’ by Alpine Canada

MONTREAL — A lawsuit filed Wednesday against Alpine Canada by three victims… Continue reading

Emily Blunt on the ‘daunting’ task of playing Mary Poppins

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Emily Blunt loves a challenge, and in the… Continue reading

Tommy Chong says Canada’s weed legalization has kept ‘underground market alive’

TORONTO — Tommy Chong has a pass, man. While some Canadians who… Continue reading

Apple deepens Austin ties, expands operations east and west

AUSTIN, Texas — Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin,… Continue reading

Trump comments upend U.S. approach to Huawei, trade talks

WASHINGTON — The United States and China have taken pains this week… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Dumba scores twice, Wild rout Canadiens 7-1

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Reeling and banged up, the Minnesota Wild were… Continue reading

Most Read