An Italian missionary priest in Niger has been kidnapped by alleged jihadists close to the border with Burkina Faso. The Italian Foreign Ministry is investigating the case.
Missionary Father Pierluigi Maccalli was kidnapped overnight in south Niger, near the border with Burkina Faso, allegedly by a group of jihadist militants.
A Niger government spokesman said today it is the second abduction of a European national in the West African country this year.
Father Maccalli of the Society of African Missions (SMA) is originally from the Diocese of the northern Italian town of Crema and had worked for years as a missionary in Ivory Coast before transferring to the parish of Bomoanga, in Niamey Diocese.
A witness said the 57-year-old-priest was kidnapped together with a local nun. The region has been struggling to defeat jihadist groups, including some affiliated with al Qaeda and Islamic State, which are active along Niger’s porous borders with both Mali and Burkina Faso.
The Italian Foreign Ministry is in contact with the priest’s family and is working on the case.
Father Maccalli’s family said it is gathered in hopeful prayer for the safe return of their loved one.