Homs (Agenzia Fides) – The kidnapping of 150 Greek-Catholic faithful, which occured yesterday September 24, has shocked the Christian community in the village of Rableh, between the Lebanese border and the city of Qusayr, in the province of Homs. We are talking about workers and farmers, men, youth and women, who were just a few kilometers from the village, working in the fields for the apple harvest, a major source of livelihood for the local population. The Catholic Abou Fadel, the father of one of the victims, contacted by Fides, said he heard gunfire and blasts, "so we went to see what was happening. We saw lots of vans and pick-ups that brought people away. In the fields there were only boxes with the apple harvest left".
Abou Fadel reports that "this region has for months been completely under the control of armed gangs who boss around. In the past few weeks we could not take care of the trees in the fields for lack of security. Then, thanks to a deal initiated by the governor of Homs, the situation looked better." The man continues: "I am very worried. My son is among the kidnapped and many young people in our family have disappeared. Why? What do the kidnappers want? We fear for their fate. We are a peaceful village, close to the shrine of the prophet St. Elijah, a place worshiped by Christians and Muslims. We desire only to live in peace with everyone."
The Greek-Catholic Patriarch of Damascus, Gregorios III Laham, was informed of the incident, "he begs God to help the innocent and poor." The Patriarch launches an appeal: "I call on all parties to respect the civil people and save innocent lives." Some Christian leaders are trying to contact NGOs and international organizations to ask for assistance in this tragic situation. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 25/09/2012)