Father Charles Kipasa and Father Jean-Pierre Akilimali were kidnapped this week from a Roman Catholic parish in Bunyuka, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at about 10 pm on 16th July. This brings to five, the number of priest abducted in the same community in five years.
“The curate Charles Kipasa and the vicar Jean-Pierre Akilimali were taken overnight by Mai-Mai who led them off to the mountains. They also took two vehicles and two motorbikes,” said Bishop Paluku Sikuli of the Beni-Butembo region. The utility vehicles were later abandoned in the village of Kavasewe, not far from Virunga National Park. The priests have however not been seen.
A police officer said the gunmen, over 10 of them, then attacked and looted a convent nearby.
John Muke, who lives nearby said, “I heard them shouting and abusing the priests. They asked for money and other valuables. They shot a few bullets in air to scare people from going to help the priests.”
Responding to the abduction the administrator of the province’s northern Beni district, Amisi Kalonda said, “Our defense and security services are working to find them.”
The local Beni-Butembo Diocese and the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) called on security forces to “do everything possible to free the two priests from the hands of kidnappers and dismantle the criminal network that destabilized peace in the region of Beni.”
“Priests are men of God who devote their lives to the good of the population without a political agenda. To hurt them is to harm the community they serve,” the Bishops declared.
Three other Assumptionists priests abducted in October 2012 in the same community are still missing.
Hassan John is the editor GCN West Africa
Image Credit: CC by Icongo-google-image.