RELIGION
10/07/2014 08:22 am ET Updated Dec 07, 2014

Parish Priest, Dozens Of Christians Reportedly Kidnapped In Syria

AHMAD GHARABLI via Getty Images

ROME, Oct 7 (Reuters) - A parish priest and a number of Christians have been kidnapped from a Syrian village near the border with Turkey, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said on Tuesday.

The Latin Patriarchate, which oversees Latin Church Catholics in Israel and neighboring countries, said Father Hanna Jallouf had been kidnapped on the night of Oct. 5 in Knayeh, a small Christian village. It said his kidnappers were brigades linked to the Islamist Nusra Front.

The statement said there had been no contact with the priest - whose church is part of the Catholic church - or his captors and added that a number of Franciscan nuns in the village had taken refuge with local people.

Catholic news agency Fides, quoting Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo in Syria, said around 20 Christians were taken along with the priest. "Among the kidnapped are young people, both boys and girls," he was quoted as saying.

The Latin Patriarchate said members of the Franciscan order had been present in the village for more than a century.

Islamist fighters have targeted Christians, members of the Yazidi sect and Shi'ite Muslims in a campaign in Syria and neighboring Iraq that has killed thousands and forced almost 2 million Iraqis to flee their homes. (Reporting by James Mackenzie, editing by John Stonestreet and David Stamp)

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