Italian priest freed in Nigeria (4)

Father Maurizio Pallù kidnapped by armed men last week

(ANSA) - Rome, October 18 - Father Maurizio Pallù, an Italian priest kidnapped in Nigeria last week, has been freed, Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano told Radio capital Wednesday.
    Sources at the Rome Vicariate also confirmed Father Pallù had been freed.
    Father Pallu', 63 today, was kidnapped at Benin City in southern Nigeria last week.
    He phoned his mother Sunday night to tell her he was well and would be released "in a few days", Vatican Insider reported Monday. Laura Pallu', 92, made the phone call public during a prayer vigil for her son's release in the parish of Santa Lucia La Sala in northern Florence.
    Father Pallu', a priest from the Rome diocese, was kidnapped Thursday in Nigeria, sources said Friday, adding that the foreign ministry's crisis unit had already been alerted and the Rome prosecutor's office anti-terror unit has opened a probe.
    The foreign ministry said no effort was being spared in the case, in a "dutiful" framework of confidentiality.
    Rome prosecutors are investigating a suspected terror crime, judicial sources said. While Islamist terrorists Boko Haram were initially suspected, they have since been all but ruled out.
    Sources said Florence-born Pallù was stopped with four other people on his way to Benin City.
    They were stopped by an armed group that stole all their belongings and abducted the priest who has been on a mission to Nigeria for three years.
    Pallu' graduated in history before setting off as a lay missionary around the world, for 11 years.
    In 1988, when his father died, he joined a Rome seminary and in 1991 was ordained as a priest.
    Two years later, spent working as a chaplain, he was sent to the Netherlands.
    The Rome diocese said it was praying for his liberation.
    Florence Archbishop Cardinal Giuseppe Betori said he was following the case with "apprehension" and urged people to pray for Father Pallù.