Islamic State terrorists have released some of the Christian families they seized from north-east Syria last week but have kidnapped more, according to the papal representative to Syria.
Archbishop Mario Zenari initially told the Rome-based AsiaNews that 52 Christian families held by the Islamic State (IS) group had been released without a ransom having been paid.
But speaking again on Monday evening he said new reports suggested that some were still being held. According to his source, the captives had been allowed on to a bus to leave when their kidnappers came under attack from Kurdish fighters.
"My source tells me that the release had already been decided upon and seemed a done deal," Archbishop Zenari explained. "A few dozen families had already boarded the bus and left the area where they had been kept captive."
He added: "IS still holds many families … In fact, they took some more from three villages".
Now the situation is even more confusing, and it is unclear what might happen next. However, Mgr Zenari is keen to point out that the case of these Christian families "is not comparable” to the beheadings of the 21 Copts in Libya.
AsiaNews reported that abducted Christians in Syria are still afforded some respect from IS fighters, especially if they are Syrian, because local Muslims respect the Church's commitment to the poor and to young people. But the same is not true with IS fighters from other Islamic countries like Chechnya, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.