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France - Central African Republic

Kidnapped French aid worker’s family worried for her safety

An anti-Balaka militiaman behind villagers in Bouca, Central African Republic
An anti-Balaka militiaman behind villagers in Bouca, Central African Republic AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO
2 min

The son of a French aid worker held hostage by anti-balaka Christian militia in the Central African Republic (CAR) says he is worried for her safety. Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday said that the French know Claudia Priest's whereabouts and hope to negotiate her rapid release.

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“My father told me about Mum’s kidnapping on Monday …,” Florent Priest, 42, told the Dépêche du Midi regional daily. “My first reaction was stupefaction and since it has been worry.”

But he has full trust in French and Central African negotiators, among them the Archibishop of Bangui Mgr Dieudonné Nzapailanga to secure his mother’s release, he said.

Priest, a 67-year-old special-needs teacher with a Catholic medical NGO, was kidnapped along with a local colleague, Father Gustav, in Bangui on Monday, by anti-balaka forces.
The kidnap was a reprisal for the arrest of anti-balaka leader Rodrigue Nagibona, alias General Andjilo, by the UN mission in CAR.

Her husband, Armand, who was expecting his wife to return to France on Tuesday told Catholic daily La Croix that he believes his wife’s capture was the result of bad luck rather than a targeted operation.
 

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