Kidnapped priests, nun freed in Cameroon: AFP

This handout file photo taken in Jan 2014, and released by the Vicenza diocese on April 7, 2014, shows Italian priests Giampaolo Marta (right) and Gianantonio Alllegri (left) standing with Vicenza's Bishop Beniamino Pizziol (second from right) and a
This handout file photo taken in Jan 2014, and released by the Vicenza diocese on April 7, 2014, shows Italian priests Giampaolo Marta (right) and Gianantonio Alllegri (left) standing with Vicenza's Bishop Beniamino Pizziol (second from right) and a resident during a visit in Jericho, near Maroua, northern Cameroon. Two Italian priests and a Canadian nun seized in April in Cameroon near the border with insurgency-wracked Nigeria, have been freed, an AFP reporter said on Sunday. -- PHOTO: AFP

MAROUA, Cameroon (AFP) - Two Italian priests and a Canadian nun seized in April in Cameroon near the border with insurgency-wracked Nigeria, have been freed, an AFP reporter said on Sunday.

The three ex-hostages were flown out of Maroua airport in north Cameroon on board a military aircraft on Sunday morning.

According to a Cameroonian security source, they were released in the early hours of Sunday and picked up by Cameroonian troops near the border with Nigeria, where they had been held captive.

“We spent a week in Nigeria for the negotiations, and they were finally handed over to us during the night,” a Cameroon military source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The priests, named in media reports as Giampaolo Marta and Gianantonio Allegri from Italy, and Canadian nun Gilberte Bussier, were seized on April 4 from the small parish of Tchere, some 800km north of Yaounde.There was no initial claim of responsiblity, but Cameroon security forces blamed Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists, who kidnapped a priest and seven members of a French family in the area last year.Kidnappings of Westerners have become common in the remote and sparsely populated region, where borders between countries are porous.