ROME (AP) — Two Roman Catholic nuns held for more than three weeks by rebels affiliated with the Islamic State group in Mozambique have been released, the nuns’religious order announced Thursday.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery said Brazilian nuns Maria Inez Leite Ramos and Eliane Costa Santana were freed on Sept. 6. The order said in a statement that the two sisters were resting and receiving medical checks outside the Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique where they were seized.
Mozambique’s extremist insurgency began in October 2017 in northern Cabo Delgado province, which borders Tanzania in the north and the Indian Ocean to the east. The rebels dramatically stepped up their attacks in 2020. In August, they captured the strategic port city of Mocimboa da Praia and have held it for nearly a month.
The sisters were held in Mocimboa da Praia for 24 days.
The St. Joseph of Chambery order thanked Bishop Luis Fernando Lisboa of Pemba, Mozambique and others who worked with the government to secure the sisters’ release.
“Sisters Eliane and Maria Inez, and the congregation, ask for prayers for all of the people in that part of Mozambique who have been displaced and harmed by the rebels,” said the statement, issued by the order’s Rome-based general council.
The rebels initially were a few bands of young men, but they grew in number and became affiliated with the Islamic State group, known as Islamic State Central African Province.
During the three-year insurgency in Mozambique, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed, mainly by the rebels, and the total number of deaths stands at 1,854, including combatants on either side, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
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