Mali: Kidnapped Priest and Faithful used as Human Shields

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The kidnapping that began with using the hostages as human shields could evolve into kidnapping for extortion purposes.

Newsdesk (June 24,2021, 11:27, Gaudium Press) – “A priest and the faithful accompanying him were kidnapped by an armed group pursued by the army, fleeing to the border with Burkina Faso. Initially, at least, they may serve as human shields”, sources in the Church of Mali reported to Agenzia Fides.

The Catholic sources refer to Father Léon Douyon, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Ségué. He was kidnapped along with Thimothé Somboro, mayor of the city of Ségué, Pascal Somboro, deputy mayor, and two other members of the community, Emmanuel Somboro, a catechist, and Boutié Tolofoudié. The kidnapping took place on June 21.

Agenzia Fides informs that “the group was travelling from Ségué to San to participate in the funeral of Father Oscar Thera, Ségué’s parish priest for nine years. They were kidnapping took place about thirty kilometres north of Ségué, near Ouo.”

The town of Ségué, located in the Dogon Plateau, is inhabited mainly by Catholics from the Diocese of Mopti.

Extortion purposes

“We hope that negotiations are underway to free them, ” sources added.

The kidnapping began with the motivation of using hostages as human shields but may evolve into kidnapping for extortion purposes.

It is not uncommon for various armed groups operating in Mali and other countries on the edge of the Sahel to exchange prisoners and handle them to organizations running kidnappings for extortion purposes, often moving from one state to another.

The kidnappings of religious in Mali

Recently, Mali has registered numerous kidnappings of religious. Fr. Luigi Maccalli (of the Society of African Missions, SMA), kidnapped by jihadist militiamen, in Niger, on the border with Burkina Faso, in the night between September 17 and 18, 2018, was freed on October 8, 2020.

Sister Cecilia Narvaez Argoti, a Colombian nun of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, is still in the hands of kidnappers, who captured her at the Karangasso mission in southern Mali on the night of February 7, 2017. (JSG)

(Photo Fides Agency)

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