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News: Nine priests abducted by militants since last week remain missing in North Shewa, Oromia Region

Addis Ababa: Nine out of 11 priests abducted by militants last week in an incident that left a deacon killed in Gebre Guracha town, North Shewa zone of Oromia Region, remain missing, while a priest and parish administrator were released after paying ransom money, a priest from North Shewa, Selale Diocese, told Addis Standard.

North Shewa, Selale Diocese of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church said armed militants killed a deacon and kidnapped 11 priests including a parish administrator on 22 October. Adding that most of the churches in the eight districts of the zone have stopped providing services.

A priest from the Diocese who asked to be anonymous told Addis Standard that out of the 11 abductees, nine of them are still missing and their conditions are unknown.

In addition, members of the parish council of Harbu Bose St. Michael church have also been kidnapped ever since, he added.

The diocese chief of North Shewa Selale, Like Siyuman Shiferahu, had told Deutsche Welle Amharic that they were working with security forces to free the abductees and that there has been no attack on the church.

Another priest who also spoke on conditions of anonymity said “although this is the first time in Gebre Guracha, it has become more common in this area”.  He added that “ taking hostage and asking for money by militants is not a new thing, but the fact that church servants are in the spotlight makes it a serious matter”.

He also said that “we don’t know about the hostages, or where they were taken. We do not think that doing such acts of kidnapping, of servants who stand and serve their religion with a small salary, are not just a search for money”.

Earlier last week, Benshangul Gumuz region Peace and Security Bureau said that more than 16 passengers, who were traveling from Assosa to Kamashi were kidnapped by gunmen in Bengua town, West Wollega zone. It was pointed out that most of those kidnapped were students returning home from the national exam on that day.

Deputy Head of Benshangul Gumuz Region, Peace and Security Bureau Mr Musa Hamid, said that the hostages were on the vehicle that was heading to Kamashi with medicines and various supplies. Adding that the loaded medicine was taken away by the militants, and the security forces are making efforts to free the hostages.

A resident of Kamashi city, who told Deutsche Welle that one of his brothers was kidnapped, confirmed that most of the hostages are students.

Bengua town is 30 km away from Bambasi district, and 20 km from Mendi town in the West Wollega zone. AS

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