Senior clergy in the Anglican Communion have strongly condemned the violent kidnapping of a bishop in South Sudan.
Rt Rev Amosa Data Elinoma of the Diocese of Morobo was abducted at gunpoint along with his driver, by militants from the National Salvation Front - an armed group which has been fighting against the government of South Sudan since 2017.
A statement issued by the office of the Archbishop of Central Equatoria Internal Province, Dr Paul Yugusuk said the attack happened on Monday morning while the Bishop was travelling to a Diocesan Council meeting. His car was stopped and his driver was ordered to drive 100 metres from the main road into the bush where they joined other travellers who had been kidnapped earlier. They were ordered to sit down to watch while their bags were looted. The bishop’s bag is said to have contained two cellphones, his cross, Bible, prayer book, clerical robe, stamp and a church document. The soldiers only stopped after realizing that a person who was travelling from Morobo had turned back, sparking fears he may have gone to report the attack. The Bishop then had to watch as his car was set alight, and reduced to ashes before the soldiers disappeared into the bushes.
The statement appealed for "the leadership of National Salvation Army to instruct their soldiers to stop harassing servants of God and civilians. While some soldiers were looting the bishop’s car as well as the riders’ property, their colleagues who were guarding the bishop informed him that they are National Salvation Front soldiers and are targeting the church leaders because the church supports the government.
"In conclusion, we passionately call on all armed groups in South Sudan to give peace a chance by utilizing mediation and other forms of negotiations to settle political disputes."
The Primate of South Sudan, Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, reiterated his calls for peace and an end to attacks on civilians and innocent people. He called on all those who have taken up arms "to end the cycle of violence and negotiate peace." He urged the peace partners in government to implement all aspects of the revitalised peace agreement.
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Anthony Poggo, formerly the Bishop of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan said:
“It is very sad to receive news of the attack on the Bishop of Morobo. I call on those who continue to attack innocent travellers on the roads in South Sudan to respect the sanctity of human life and destruction of property.
“May all those who have taken up arms come to the negotiating table. Please pray for peace in South Sudan as well as an end to the ongoing conflict in Sudan.”