AFRICA/NIGERIA - Italian missionary freed in a police operation

Tuesday, 5 July 2022 kidnappings   priests  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - The Nigerian police released an Italian missionary kidnapped on Sunday, July 3. Father Luigi Brena, a 64-year-old Somascan missionary (regular Somasca clergy), had been abducted from Ogunwenyi, South-West Ovia Local Government Area, Edo State, southern Nigeria. A statement from the state police indicates that the missionary was released thanks to a raid carried out by the police forces. "Officers from the Edo State Police Command on July 3 at around 5:45pm received news that Rev. Fr. Luigi Brena, 64, an Italian from the Somascan Fathers Community, was kidnapped along the Ogunwenyi road of the Usen community". Police officers immediately sprang into action and followed the kidnappers to their camp in the forest. The suspects, after spotting the officers, opened fire, but the policemen neutralized three of the bandits, while the rest of the gang escaped with several gunshot wounds, leaving the victim behind". "Reverend Father was immediately transferred to Igbinedion University Hospital in Okada for medical attention. Meanwhile, an intensive patrol is being carried out in the bush to arrest the kidnappers who have fled," the statement added. Two other Nigerian priests, Fr. Peter Udo and Fr. Philemon Oboh, were kidnapped in the state of Edo in recent days (see Fides 4/7/2022). Another Nigerian priest was kidnapped yesterday morning, July 4, in Zambina, northeastern Kaduna state. This is Emmanuel Silas, who officiated at the church of San Carlos de Zambina, in the local government area of Kauru, in the state of Kaduna. Kidnappings of Catholic priests are on the rise in Nigeria, along with those of ordinary citizens, Nigerians and foreigners. On June 29, four Chinese citizens were kidnapped in the assault on the Ajata Aboki mine, which left an undetermined number of dead and wounded. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 5/7/2022)