Al-Qaeda-linked rebels seize priest in Syria: Franciscan Order
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Forces of Syria's President Assad burn a flag of al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, which they said was left behind by rebel fighters, in Zor al-Mahruqa village, after the forces said they had regained control of the area and its surrounding hills in the Hama countryside Oct. 6. REUTERS PhotoA Franciscan priest and several other Christians have been seized by al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front in a village in northwestern Syria, the Franciscan mission to the Holy Land said Oct. 7.
"On the night of October 5th, Father Hanna Jallouf of the Custody of the Holy Land, parish priest at Qunyeh, Syria, was taken by some brigades linked to Jabhat Al-Nusra," a statement from the Custody of the Holy Land said.
Qunyeh is a village of several hundred people in Idlib province, and lies some eight kilometres from the Turkish border.
"Along with Father Hanna, several men of the Christian village were also taken," the statement said, indicating that an unspecified number of Franciscan nuns who were at St Joseph's Convent in Qunyeh had taken refuge with the villagers.
"We are not able to say where Father Hanna and his parishioners are now and, at this time, we have no possibility of contact with him or his captors," it said.
"Let us pray for him and for the other victims of this tragic and senseless war."
The Custody of the Holy Land is made up of 285 members of the Franciscan Order from 39 countries.
Al-Nusra Front, which fights alongside rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, is the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.