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Gunmen kidnap Afghanistan head of Jesuit Refugee Service

04 June 2014 | by Anto Akkara

An Indian Jesuit priest who heads the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Afghanistan has been kidnapped.

Fr Alexis Prem Kumar, 47, who has been in Afghanistan since 2011, was abducted by gunmen on Monday from a school built and run by JRS in the village of Sohadat in Herat province.

“Kumar was abducted by a group of unidentified men as he was about to leave Sohadat village after visiting the school that had been set up by the JRS for returnee children, primarily from Iran,” Fr Stan Fernandes, JRS South Asia regional director, said in a press release yesterday.

“The group of unidentified kidnappers surrounded the school campus about 12.45pm, fired shots in the air, caught hold of Kumar, and drove off with him in a car. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the abduction,” the release added.

Kumar took up assignment with the JRS in Afghanistan in July 2011. He took over leading the JRS operations in Afghanistan from 2012, having previously led the charity’s work in India.

Fr Edward Muduvassery, Jesuit provincial for South Asia, and other church officials asked the Indian and Afghan Government to make every effort to secure Fr Kumar’s release.

The JRS statement noted that the kidnapping followed a thwarted attack last month on the Indian consulate in Herat by four armed gunmen, who were killed by security guards.

Several similar attacks on Indian targets, including Indian workers, had been reported earlier as India has been carrying out several development works in Afghanistan that have faced strong resistance from the Taliban.

Above: Fr Kumar had worked in Afghanistan for four years. Photo: CNS/JRS





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