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Kidnapped Nigerian Catholic priest found dead, another escapes

by Reuters Journalist
Fr Donatus Cleopas.PNG main.PNG - Banner image
Fr Donatus Cleopas. Photos courtesy of Archdiocese of Kaduna

A Nigerian Catholic priest abducted last week was found murdered on Tuesday while his colleague managed to escaped from his captors in the northern state of Kaduna, the local diocese said.

Fathers John Mark Cheitnum and Donatus Cleophas were seized in the town of Lere when attending a parish function at Christ the King Catholic Church, Yadin Garu last Friday.

On Tuesday, the body of Cheitnum was found, the Kafanchan diocese said in a statement, adding that he was "brutally killed on the same day of his abduction." His burial is on Thursday.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction.

About a dozen priests have been kidnapped this year across Nigeria by gunmen who demand ransom payments. Nigerian security forces, who are stretched fighting an Islamist insurgency in the northeast, often fail to stop the attacks.

Speaking to Premier, Ayo Adedoyin, CEO of Peacebuilding and Social Justice UK, said: "It's yet another strand in the mishmash of various forms of insecurity, which are all escalating at the same time.

"People sometimes would have us believe that there is no religious dimension to this insecurity, but as you have seen for nine straight weeks, we've had incidences upon incidences of priests being targeted, for abductions for ransoms, and whatever else it is absolutely ridiculous.

"It really does need to be addressed both spiritually as well as physically.

"We recently released a report on Nigeria called 'Nigeria on the Brink', which incidentally triggered a debate in the House of Parliament only yesterday.

"It is a very worrying situation.

"This escalation of kidnaps of priest is just one aspect of a big massive worrying mishmash."

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