JERUSALEM (AFP) – A Franciscan priest and 20 other Christians have been seized by al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front in a village in northwestern Syria, the Franciscan mission said Tuesday.
“On the night of October 5th, Father Hanna Jallouf, parish priest at Qunyeh, Syria, was taken by some brigades linked to Jabhat Al-Nusra.”
Following their capture, an unspecified number of Franciscan nuns took refuge with the villagers.
Qunyeh is a village of several hundred people. According to top Franciscan official Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the 62-year-old priest was seized along with 20 villagers.
“He has been kidnapped,” he told AFP in Jerusalem, expressing deep concern over the fate of the priest, a Syrian who has worked in Qunyeh for 12 years after a posting in the Jordanian capital, Amman. “They are accusing them of being collaborators” with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It’s not true. We don’t know what to do. We don’t know with whom to talk, we’re totally unable to get in touch with anyone,” added Pizzaballa.