Kidnapped priest back home
A priest kidnapped by Islamic radicals in Cameroon and held for seven weeks has arrived back in the country. A smiling Father Georges Vandenbeusch descended from the plane at a military airport near Paris yesterday and shook hands with President Francois Hollande, who was waiting on the tarmac. There was never a claim of responsibility for the Nov. 13 kidnapping near the Nigerian border, but suspicion fell on the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram or one of its splinter groups. Each time hostages from the country are freed, there is speculation about whether — or how much — ransom was paid. The government insists, this time included, that it does not pay ransom. Instead, Hollande credited the “relentless” work of authorities in Cameroon and Nigeria, but provided no details on the release.
Young revelers arrested
Police on Tuesday said they had arrested 100 youths who pelted firefighters with bottles and fireworks in a central town notorious for its unruly New Year celebrations. The violence broke out after a group of revelers in Veen doused a car wreck in fuel and set fire to it in the street — a New Year’s tradition in the town. “We have arrested about 100 young people, men and women, mainly between the ages of 18 and 25 after they pelted firefighters trying to put out a burning car wreck,” police spokesman Jeroen Steenmeyer said. “When the fire department came to put out the fire, they were pelted with bottles and heavy fireworks and that’s when the police took action.” The revelers ran into a cafe, where they were arrested before being taken to a police station, a police statement added. In 2003, Veen’s youths set 17 cars on fire, resulting in hundreds of thousands of euros in damage. A year later, when the town’s mayor tried to halt the festivities, his own car went up in flames.
Man charged over ferry fire
A man was charged on Monday with causing a fire onboard a ferry carrying more than 1,000 people from Newcastle to Amsterdam, police said. Boden George Hughes, 26, was charged with “arson reckless to endangering life” and affray after the fire late on Saturday in a cabin of the DFDS ferry MS King Seaways in the North Sea. Two Royal Air Force search-and-rescue helicopters and two lifeboats were scrambled and seven people had to be airlifted to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. The ferry was about 50km off the coast of northeast England at the time, and aborted its journey, returning to Newcastle early on Sunday morning.
Letter bomb injures woman
An employee at Naples’ prefecture was lightly wounded on Tuesday after a letter addressed to the prefect exploded in her hands, local media reported. Prefect Francesco Antonio Musolino’s secretary, unnamed by the media, suffered minor burns to her hands and eyebrows and was taken to hospital, the reports said. Musolino told reporters following the blast that the A4-sized white envelope had not contained toxins or radioactive material and police were examining a piece of paper found inside. Letter bomb attacks are not infrequent in the nation. Far-left anarchist group FAI in particular has committed a string of attacks on European institutions and foreign embassies in Rome since 2000. The group has widened its reach in recent years, with campaigns against tax inspectors, bankers, diplomats and a nuclear engineer.