A Polish missionary abducted by Muslim rebels from the Central African Republic on October 12 has been freed by the Cameroon army after two months in captivity.
A “special military operation” has freed 16 hostages, including Polish Catholic priest Mateusz Dziedzic, who was snatched by rebels from Central African Republic last month, Cameroon’s government said on Wednesday.
The head of the organization that runs Poland’s overseas Catholic missions had said a rebel group known as the Democratic Front of the Central African People (FDPC) was responsible for kidnapping Dziedzic. The FDPC is a former ally of the Seleka rebellion, a predominantly Muslim insurgent coalition that briefly held power from March to December 2013, after a coup that ousted Christian President Francois Bozize.
The kidnappers reportedly did not ask for a ransom for the priest, but sought to exchange him for FDPC leader, Abdoulaye Miskine. Miskine was arrested last year on the border between Cameroon and the Central African Republic, and has since been detained in Cameroon.
It was not immediately clear if this condition had been met.
The Polish Foreign Ministry confirmed the release of the missionary. “Father Mateusz Dziedzic has been freed,” spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski said. “It was a complex act of negotiation involving several countries, countries within the region and international organizations,” he said, underscoring “the role of France” in particular.
Wojciechowski said that the priest’s “state of health isn’t excellent, but he isn’t in danger,” and added that Father Dziedzic was on his way to Brazaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo.
It had been reported that Father Dziedzic had been quite ill during his captivity, including a bout of malaria.
Thomas D. Williams can be followed on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome