Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Two Congolese Catholic priests were kidnapped during the night between Sunday 16 and Monday, July 17. Don Pierre Akilimali and Don Charles Kipasa were kidnapped by strangers in the Notre-Dame des Anges parish of Bunyuka, in the diocese of Beni-Butembo, in the province of North-Kivu, northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The kidnapping of the two priests was condemned by the Congolese National Bishops' Conference (CENCO), which in a statement denounced the climate of insecurity in the area and reminded the Congolese authorities of their "duty to ensure the security of people and their goods". CENCO has asked the security forces "to do everything possible to free the two priests from the hands of kidnappers and dismantle the criminal network that destabilizes peace in the region of Beni".
The statement also highlights that since October 2012 there has been no news about the fate of the three Assumptionist fathers, Jean-Pierre Ndulani, Anselme Wasikundi and Edmond Bamutute, abducted in their parish of Notre-Dame des Pauvres in Mbau, 22 km from Beni (See Fides 22/10/2012).
"Priests are God's men who consecrate their lives for the good of the population, without having a political agenda. Hurting them means harming the whole community they serve", underlines the statement signed by His Exc. Mgr. Marcel Utembi, Archbishop of Kisangani and President of CENCO.
According to a note sent to Agenzia Fides by CEPADHO, a local NGO for the protection of human rights, the two priests were kidnapped by about ten armed camouflaged men who attacked the parish. The assailants hit some seminarians who were serving in the parish and stole two cars and two motorcycles used by the priests. The two off-road vehicles were later found near Virunga National Park. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 18/7/2017)