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Nigeria: Kidnapped priest freed

A Catholic priest kidnapped on Monday (26 Sep.) by Fulani herdsmen in south-eastern Nigeria was released yesterday (29 Sep).

Fr. Emmanuel Dim was travelling with two other priests when they were attacked by some heavily armed men on Monday evening.

“We thank God for the release of Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Dim, Rector [of] Tansi Mayor Seminary, Onitsha, without any ransom paid. We're happy,” said Fr. Francis Chidume, Chancellor of the Awka Diocese, in Anambra State.

The two other priests were injured during the attack, but managed to escape.

Fr. Ezeokana, who teaches both at the Major Seminary of Onitsha and at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, was slightly injured, while Fr. Chukwuemeka, Chaplin at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Nnewi), was shot in the head and has been admitted to hospital.

Kidnapping of prominent persons by armed men, in exchange for money, is recurrent in Nigeria.

Another priest, whose name is yet to be confirmed, was also kidnapped on Monday, along with his brother, while they were travelling on the Abuja–Lokoja Expressway.

“One begins to wonder if Catholic priests have become an endangered species,” said Fr. Aghaulor, who accused the South East Governors of not doing enough to protect the people they are governing from the violence of the Fulani herdsmen.

“While innocent people are left unprotected, we have seen [a] barrage of military wares and personnel protecting the pipelines in Niger Delta, as if oil is more important than people's [lives],” he said. “Why should people be killed without provocation in their own traditional lands?”

Sources: FidesDaily Trust

French church attack survivor describes ordeal

An 87-year-old man forced to video the graphic murder of his priest in a church in northern France two months ago has spoken of his ordeal.

Guy Coponet was stabbed three times – including once in the throat – and left for dead, after two young Islamists had used him to help capture their murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel, 85, during Mass at the Saint-Étienne Church in the small town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen, on 26 July.

“The two young killers grabbed me, put a camera in my hands and said, ‘Grandpa, you film!’” Coponet told the French website, Famille Chretienne, who also interviewed his wife, Janine. “They even checked the quality of the images and made sure I was not shaking, too. I had to film the assassination of my friend Father Jacques! I am still traumatised by it, I can’t move on.”

“They stabbed me three times – in the arm, back and throat,” he added. “The emergency doctor who treated me told me, ‘There was a divine hand on you because none of the stabs hit a vital organ. But they really were not far away. It's like a miracle!’”

Saint-Étienne Church will reopen on Sunday (2 Oct.) with a special ceremony. Pope Francis has already hailed Fr. Hamel as a “martyr”.

Iranians still don’t know why they were arrested

Five Iranian Christians arrested last month in the Alborz Mountains north-east of Tehran still haven’t been told why they are being detained, nor have they been allowed any visitors – not even lawyers.

Amin Afshar Naderi, Ramil Bet-Tamraz, Hadi Asgari, Mohammad Dehnavi and Amir Saman Dashti were arrested on 26 Aug. Their families initially didn’t know where they had been taken, though eventually three of them were permitted to phone home, according to Mohabat News. They reportedly said they are being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Mohabat says their families are concerned the Iranian authorities may try to fabricate charges against them or pressure them to confess to having committed a crime. Some of them have also reportedly been fired from their jobs for being off work for so long.

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