Africa

Cameroon rescues 16 hostages including a Polish priest

Cameroon

Cameroon's military has freed 16 hostages, including a Polish priest, captured by rebels from the Central African Republic (CAR), the president says.

Fifteen of the hostages were Cameroonians abducted on 20 September and 24 October in eastern Cameroon.

The sixteenth was Polish priest Mateusz Dziedzic, who was kidnapped on 12 October in Baboua, CAR.

Cameroon's government did not name the group responsible.

However, Mr Dziedzic is said to have been captured by Democratic Front of the Central African Republic (FDPC), which had been demanding the release of their leader, Abdoulaye Miskine.

The group had hoped to exchange Mr Dzjedzic for Mr Miskine, according to Poland's Pontifical Mission Societies.

A spokesperson for Poland's foreign ministry said that Mr Dziedzic's "condition isn't perfect but he's feeling fine and there is no threat to his life".

Marcin Wojciechowski added that the priest was freed following negotiations with other countries and international organisations.

In Wednesday's statement, Cameroon's President Paul Biya thanked those involved in the rescue, including Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of Congo-Brazzaville and mediator in the CAR crisis.

Mr Biya added that he would "continue to... work tirelessly to preserve peace, stability and security in Cameroon".

Rebel takeover

The FDPC is one of several armed groups that have fought against the Central African government for years.

In September last year, its leader was arrested in Cameroon and taken to the capital, Yaounde.

Cameroonian police suspected Mr Miskine was planning to use Cameroon as a base to attack the CAR.

Mr Miskine previously belonged to the Seleka rebel coalition, which overthrew former CAR President Francois Bozize and seized the capital Bangui in March 2013.

Members of the FPDC have long demanded his release from Cameroon.

In October, Cameroon freed 27 hostages who had been taken prisoner by Nigerian Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

Amongst the prisoners was Amadou Ali, wife of Cameroon's vice-prime minister.

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