By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (BosNewsLife)– A Syrian priest and some 20 other Christians remained missing Wednesday, October 8, after they were kidnapped by Islamist militants near Syria’s border with Turkey, church officials said.
Hanna Jallouf, of the Fransiscan order, and other believers were abducted in the Christian village of Knayeh in Idlib province by fighters of the Islamist Nusra Front – a local branch of the al-Qaida terror network, explained the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Several nuns apparently managed to take refuge with local people.
Syrian Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo region for the Catholics of the Latin, said children were among the hostages. “We only know that yesterday the monastery was looted, and other people of the village are hiding. Among those kidnapped there are young people, both boys and girls,” he added in published remarks.
Al-Nusra has been known to kidnap Christian priests in the past. The group claimed responsibility for the abduction of Greek Orthodox nuns, who were taken from a convent in the historic city of Maaloula in December 2013.
They were released as part of a prisoner exchange deal with the government following months of negotiations.
The latest kidnappings have added to fear among Christians in Syria and Iraq, where Islamic State (IS) fighters are killing devoted followers of Jesus Christ and other minorities on a massive scale.
Many have been beheaded or even crucified for their Christian faith or other views deemed “un-Islamic”, according to several well-informed sources.
IS has also been linked to kidnapping Christians, including Jesuit missionary Paolo Dall’Oglio, 60.
The missionary was abducted in July 2013 in north-eastern Syria but his whereabouts remained unknown Thursday, October 8.
Christians comprised roughly 10 percent of Syria’s 23- million population before civil war erupted in 2011, but hundreds of thousands have since fled the war-torn nation.
News of the latest abductions came amid mounting concern among Kurdish people that current air strikes by the United States and allies on IS targets in Iraq and Syria will not be able to halt the IS offensive.
In Brussels, Belgium, some 100 Kurdish protesters broken through security to stage a protest inside the European Parliament.
The protest followed a similar demonstration late on Monday, October 6, when scores of Kurdish protesters occupied part of the Dutch parliament in The Hague.
They demand international action to defend the Syrian town of Kobane against IS fighters, amid concerns about possible massacres in the region.
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