06/07/2007, 00.00
IRAQ
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Four Christians abducted yesterday are released in Baghdad

Chaldean clergyman, Father Hani, and one of the five boys accompanying him on a visit to a minor seminar in the capital are still being held but negotiations are underway to free them. Released prisoners are said to be in good conditions.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Four of five Christian boys abducted yesterday with Chaldean priest Fr Hani Abdel Ahad were released today in good physical conditions. Sources told AsiaNews that the 33-year-old priest and the fifth boy are still in the hands of the kidnappers. All six were on their way to the minor seminar in Suleikh, in one of the capital’s north-eastern neighbourhoods.

It appears that the kidnappers are common criminals interested in money. Immediately after they took the priest and the five boys they sent a ransom note to Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly.

Negotiations are currently underway to get the release of the remaining two hostages but the process is complicated by the fact that Church leaders are in another city, al-Qosh, for a synod.

For many years, Father Hani served in Lebanon and came back to Baghdad only last year.

His abduction comes only three days after the murder of Fr Ragheed Ganni, a Chaldean parish priest, and three subdeacons in Mosul.

A requiem mass in memory of the four martyrs of Mosul was held today in the Pontifical Irish College in Rome with the participation of Irish Cardinal Desmond Connell and Mgr Ignace Moussa Daoud, prefect of the Congregation of Eastern Churches.

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