06/07/2014, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN - INDIA
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Three Taliban arrested over kidnap of Indian Jesuit

The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms that "the situation is very delicate." A group of tribals in Tamil Nadu organize a prayer vigil to demand the release of the priest.

Kabul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The government of Afghanistan is following "some concrete leads" in relation to the kidnap of Indian Jesuit Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar SJ, on 2 June. This is according to the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who have confirmed the arrest of three Taliban militants. The Ministry spokesman has added that "Afghanistan is working on all fronts" to free the priest, but there are no other details because "the situation is very delicate."

In recent days, some local media claimed that Fr. Alexis was in Afghanistan in relation to the Indian diplomatic mission in the country, and for this reason was arrested. His abduction in fact occurred ten days after a suicide bombing at the Indian consulate in Herat, the province where he was a Jesuit.

However, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied "any involvement" of the priest with the government in New Delhi. "He is an Indian citizen - they add - but he is there with an NGO. He has no links to the Indian government, the diplomatic mission or consulate."

Since 2011, Fr. Alexis has headed the Afghan section of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Every year, this NGO provides educational services, health care and social assistance to more than 500 thousand refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide. In 2013, the JRS helped more than 6 thousand Afghans returning from Iran and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, statements and expressions of solidarity for Fr. Alexis and his family continue to arrive. A group of tribals in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu village where the Jesuit worked before leaving for Afghanistan, organized a prayer vigil on June 4 last. "He worked with our kids - they tell - and at the same time with the Sri Lankan refugees. Many of us benefited from his commitment and his dedication. If we have houses and identity documents is only thanks to him." In his honor, volunteers and activists in the area are organizing a silent march on June 11.

 

 

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