Priest and 20 Christians kidnapped in Syria, Freed

Priest and 20 Christians kidnapped in Syria, Freed
Thu Oct 9, 2014 19:07:02

A priest and 20 other Christians kidnapped by Al-Qaeda-linked Terrorist in Syria this week were released Thursday, the Franciscan order said.

"Father Hanna Jallouf has been released this morning... He is under house arrest at the convent of Qunyeh," the order said, without providing further details.

Qunaya is located in Syria's Idlib province, 29 miles west of Idlib, and 75 miles northwest of Hamah.

A Franciscan spokeswoman later confirmed to AFP that the other captives were also released.

Terrorists linked to Al-Nusra Front - Al-Qaeda's Syria branch - abducted Jallouf and the others villagers Sunday in the northwestern village of Qunyeh, near the Turkish border.

One source told AFP that the Terrorists were angry with Fr. Jallouf because he refused to give them olives harvested from trees on the convent’s land.

A local activist said Al-Nusra had been trying to take over some of the Franciscan properties in Qunyeh, prompting Jallouf to complain to an so called Islamic religious court of Al-Nusra Front Terrorists group last week.

Al-Nusra have seized several Christian and Muslim villages in the area during the course of Syria's three-and-a-half-year unrest.

The Franciscans, a Roman Catholic religious order that has operated in the country for more than eight centuries, have 19 people working there. They have been working in Qunyeh for 125 years, the activist said.

Kidnapping is rife in Syria, with all armed sides are accused of abducting people.

Civilians have often been targeted for ransom, while extremists such as Al-Nusra and the ISIS (ISIL) group have seized journalists, aid workers and soldiers, as well as civilians and rival opposition fighters.

In recent months, IS has beheaded two journalists, both American, and two British aid workers.

In April, Fr. Frans van der Lugt, S.J., was murdered in Homs as he cared for the fewer than 30 Christians who remained in the city. A Dutchman, he had worked in Syria since 1967, was involved in interreligious dialogue, and had built a spirituality center which housed some 40 children with mental disabilities, CNA or Catholic News Agency reports.

In December 2013, a group of Greek Orthodox nuns as well as women from their convent's orphanage were abducted by al-Nusra Front in Ma'loula, 35 miles north of Damascus. They were returned, unharmed, in March.

In July 2013, Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio, S.J., was abducted from Raqqa, a city controlled by the ISIS. He had served the people of Syria for more than 30 years.

In October 2013, three months after his kidnapping, he was reported to be alive, but he remains missing.

In April 2013, both the Greek and Syriac Orthodox bishops of Aleppo, Boulos Yazigi and Yuhanna Ibrahim, were kidnapped. Their driver, Deacon Fatha' Allah Kabboud, was killed. The bishops remain missing, though it has been rumored that only one of them is still alive.

And in October 2013, seven relief workers from the Red Cross and Red Crescent were abducted. Four were released one day after their capture, but three remain missing.

In August, Terrorists that included Al-Nusra kidnapped more than 40 Fijian UN peacekeepers in the Syrian-held sector of the Golan Heights. The troops were released two weeks later.

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