Two Italian priests and a Canadian religious sister working as missionaries in northern Cameroon were abducted on Saturday by two armed groups in the west African country, Italian government and Church officials say, reports news.com.au.
Italy’s foreign ministry identified the priests as Frs Giampaolo Marta and Gianantonio Allegri, but declined to give other details, including the Canadian’s identity, to avoid compromising efforts for the missionaries’ release.
It noted that its website cautions against travel in the area, 30 kilometres from the border with Nigeria 'in consideration of the risk of kidnappings due to presence of jihadist elements coming from Nigeria.'
A Vatican spokesman, Fr Ciro Benedettini, said the priests were assigned from the Vicenza diocese in northern Italy.
The missionaries who were kidnapped 'are greatly loved and greatly appreciated,' Vicenza diocese spokesman Fr Alessio Graziani said. 'The people there have great esteem for them.’
Fr Benedettini said Pope Francis was told early Saturday about the abduction, was praying for the three and 'expressed hope for a solution.'
Photo: Vicenza Bishop Beniamino Pizziol flanked by Fathers Gianantonio Alllegri, right, and Giampaolo Marta, left, during a mass in Tchakidjebe church, Cameroon, in January
Italian priests and Canadian nun abducted in Cameroon (news.com.au)