07/26/2006, 00.00
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Salesian missionaries attacked in broad daylight near Bangalore

The incident occurred about 30 kilometres from Karnataka's state capital. The two clergymen, Frs Soby Thomas and Vinod, work at the local Salesian high school and are well-known environmental activists. Their 'green' activism might be the motive for the assault.

Bangalore (AsiaNews/CBCI) – Armed with cricket bats a gang of "anti-social elements" attacked two Salesian missionaries yesterday in Hebbagodi, a town some 30 kilometres south of Bangalore, ostensibly because of their involvement in anti-pollution actions.

Mgr Bernard Moras, archbishop of Bangalore, expressed "deep anguish" for what happened, a dastardly act he "strongly condemned".

Fr Soby Thomas, Vice Principal of St Francis de Sales High school, and a fellow Salesian, Fr Vinod, were assaulted in the street in broad daylight.

They were immediately brought to a local hospital after the incident. Father Soby received 16 switches for his injuries.

The school where they work is one of the best and most popular of the area, which is not far from Electronics City, an industrial park just outside Bangalore.

Both Salesian missionaries are also well-known environmentalists who have been actively involved in protecting the local ecology.

For Sajan George from the Global Council of Indian Christians, "the attack against the two priests is an attack against environmental conservation, freedom of expression and above all the ethos of civil society".

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