10/15/2007, 00.00
IRAQ
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Mosul: Syro-Catholic priests still in the hands of their captors

Negotiations are underway to free priests abducted on Saturday. Pope appealed for their release yesterday. Some Iraqi Christians criticise Baghdad’s ‘indifference’ towards the plight of kidnapped Iraqi clergymen.

Ankawa (AsiaNews) – The two Syro-Catholic priests, who were abducted in Mosul on Saturday and whose release Pope Benedict XVI called for in yesterday’s Angelus, are still in the hands of their captors, Christian website www.Ankawa.com reported this morning. On its Arabic page, it criticises the central government which “continues to ignore the problem of Iraqi clergymen” and fails “to investigate and arrest the culprits.”

Sources close to the nunciature told AsiaNews that negotiations are underway and that the Syro-Catholic bishop of Mosul, Mgr Basile George Casmoussa, is working day and night for the release of the two priests. According to some rumours talks are slow because the captors are asking a king’s ransom for letting them go.

Fr Mazen Ishoa, 35, and Fr Pius Afas, 60, were kidnapped by unknown people on their way to celebrate mass at Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church in the al-Faisaliya neighbourhood.

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