BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Several hostages, including a Polish priest, were released Wednesday after being held by rebels in Central African Republic, officials and rebels said.
Cameroon's president said in a statement that special forces secured the release of 15 Cameroonians and the priest, Mateusz Dziedzic, who was kidnapped in October near the Cameroonian border.
But Lt. Leonard Kamdika of the rebels, known as the Democratic Front of the Central African People, said the hostages were let go as a gesture of goodwill in their efforts to win the freedom of their leader, who is jailed in Cameroon. He added that 10 Central Africans were also freed.
The group is ending its armed fight but will continue to press for their leader's release, Kamdika said.
The rebels were once linked with Seleka, a coalition of mostly Muslim armed groups that toppled the president last year. Widespread human rights abuses committed by Seleka gave rise to Christian militias, unleashing sectarian violence that has forced hundreds of thousands of Muslim civilians to flee to neighboring countries.