French priest Georges Vandenbeusch was greeted with the thunderous applause of parishioners as he returned to his former church in the Parisian suburb of Sceaux on Thursday, three days after his high-profile released by Nigerian Islamists.
The 42-year-old priest was abducted in northern Cameroon on November 13 and held captive in an undisclosed location for seven weeks. He returned to his native France on Wednesday after the radical Islamist group Boko Haram said he had been released on “compassionate grounds”.
On Thursday he helped celebrate mass at Saint John the Baptist church in Sceaux, where he worked between 2002 and 2011, and which he left in order to work in the diocese of Maroua near Cameroon’s remote northern border.
“I wanted to come back here because my old parish is dear to my heart,” he told FRANCE 24 following the mass. “I’m also thinking a lot about my parish in Cameroon and hope they can hear a bit of this… the only thing that I am missing a little is them.”
Vandenbeusch said he would not return to Cameroon to continue his missionary work there because he knew that doing so “could put people’s lives at risk”.
He said he had not been mistreated by his captors but also dismissed Boko Haram’s claims that he had been freed because of their compassion.
A Cameroonian security source told the AFP news agency that an unidentified Boko Haram leader detained in Cameroon had been freed in return for Vandenbeusch’s release.
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Date created : 2014-01-03