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Leaders Condemn Kidnapping of South Sudanese Bishop

Adapted from Anglican Communion News Service

Armed soldiers briefly kidnapped a South Sudanese bishop and destroyed his vehicle on June 5. Bishop Amosa Data Elinoma of Morocco and his driver were traveling to a Diocesan Council meeting.

Here are excerpts from a statement by Dr. Paul Yugusuk, Archbishop of Central Equatorial Internal Province, based in Juba:

We have reliably learnt that this barbaric, inhuman act was done by National Salvation Front (NAS) soldiers. We appeal to the leadership of National Salvation army to instruct their soldiers to stop harassing servants of God and civilians.

The bishop and his driver were ordered to drive the car 100 meters from the main road into the bush, where they joined boda boda [motorcycle taxi] riders who had been kidnapped earlier. They were ordered to sit down, from where they helplessly saw their bags looted. The bishop’s bag had two cellphones, his cross, Bible, prayer book, clerical robe, stamp and church document, including a printed report that he had prepared to present at the Diocesan Council meeting.

While some soldiers were looting the bishop’s car, as well as the boda riders’ property, their other colleagues who were guarding the bishop categorically informed him that they are National Salvation Front soldiers and that they are targeting the church leaders because the church supports the government.

The soldiers only stopped the barbaric act after realizing that a suspicious boba boda rider who was riding from Morobo turned back. They feared that the rider might have gone to report the matter. The bishop saw them pour petrol on his car and torch it to ashes before they disappeared into the bushes.

Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, who was attending a provincial synod in Madagascar, renewed his calls for peace and an end to the attacks on civilians and innocent people. He called on all those who have taken up arms “to end the cycle of violence and negotiate peace.” And he reminded the peace partners in government of the need to implement all aspects of the revitalized peace agreement.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Anthony Poggo, former Bishop of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan, is also in Madagascar.

“It is very sad to receive news of the attack on the Bishop of Morobo,” he said. “I call on those who continue to attack innocent travelers on the roads in South Sudan to respect the sanctity of human life.”

The National Salvation Front maintains a Facebook page, but an item from May 18 was the most recent content posted there. The Facebook page lists a website link for the NAS, but that page is inactive.

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