A church official in northern Cameroon says the gunmen who kidnapped a French priest are demanding the release of members of an armed Islamic group who have been arrested.

Fellow priest Gilbert Pali said Friday that the kidnappers had sent a representative back to the area to issue their demands.

Father Georges Vandenbeusch was kidnapped late Wednesday in the far north of Cameroon, about 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the border with Nigeria. The zone has been flagged as a risk for terrorism and kidnapping, but the priest chose to stay on to carry out his work, the French Foreign Ministry said.

The kidnappers are seeking the release of prisoners from Boko Haram, a Nigerian extremist group that has waged a campaign of bombings and shootings across Nigeria's north.