06/03/2014, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN - INDIA
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Early contacts to shed light on Indian Jesuit's kidnapping in Afghanistan

by Nirmala Carvalho
In charge of media relations, Loyola College principal talks to AsiaNews about the case. The situation is described as "very sensitive" but no other statements have followed in this regard. Fr Alexis Kumar, 47, has been working in Afghanistan for four years.

Kabul (AsiaNews) - "The Consulate of India and the Government of Afghanistan are in contact to shed light on the kidnapping of Fr Alexis Prem Kumar SJ," Fr Jeyapathy SJ told AsiaNews.

Principal at the Loyola College (Tamil Nadu, India), Fr Jeyapathy was charged by Fr Edward Mudavassery, Jesuit Provincial of South Asia, to speak to the media.

Fr Alexis, head of the Afghan section of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), was abducted yesterday in Herat. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

"Alexis Prem Kumar SJ had gone to visit a school for the returnees in Sohadat village 25 km from Herat with the teachers. He was kidnapped from the school as he was about to return to Herat," Fr Mudavassery said.

Fr Alexis, 47, belongs to the Jesuit Province of Madurai (Tamil Nadu). He has worked with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) for more than ten years.

He joined the Society of Jesus in 1998, and worked with Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu for six years before arriving in Afghanistan four years ago.

In Kabul a source, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews said that "local newspapers reported the news of the kidnapping but they did not say that it involved a priest. They refer to him as an NGO official."

"In fact, here members of the Jesuit Refugee Service are seen as humanitarian workers rather than missionary priests. They have a certain autonomy and move a lot. Their activities are mainly in education. I do not think that those who abducted knew he was a priest. It is more likely they took him because he was a foreigner."

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