By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
ABUJA (Worthy News) – A Catholic priest and three other persons abducted by suspected Islamic gunmen in southeastern Nigeria this week have been released, several sources confirmed Wednesday.
Priest Joseph Azubuike had been kidnapped with the three others Monday while returning from pastoral duties near his Saint Charles Parish in Mgbaleze Isu in the Local Government Area of Nigeria’s Ebonyi State, his church said.
Onome Onovwakpoyeya, the spokesperson of the Ebonyi Police Command, confirmed that the priest was released at 6 p.m. local time on Tuesday.
“Reverend Father Joseph Azubuike has been rescued unhurt, hale and hearty as a result of the concerted efforts of the Operatives of the Command,” the spokesperson explained.
“A serious manhunt is on for the perpetrators, who escaped during the rescue mission,” Onovwakpoyeya said, adding that the priest is in “hospital now for medical checks.”
It was not immediately clear how much ransom had been paid. The Abakiliki Diocese said the “abductors are making financial demands, but with your prayers, we are going to have them back unconditionally.”
Abduction for ransom has become one of the prevalent crimes in most Nigerian cities, “and everyone, including students, school children, and clerics, appears to be easy targets,” Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper commented.
However, it also underscored the spreading violence against church leaders and other Christians by armed groups in Nigeria, often with a Muslim background.
Thirty-nine Catholic priests were reportedly killed, while 30 were abducted last year.
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