Abducted Catholic priest killed, another clergyman freed in Kaduna, Nigeria

One of the two Catholic priests kidnapped last Friday by gunmen in Kaduna state, northern Nigeria, has been shot dead by his kidnappers, while the second has been released after paying his ransom, the Nigerian Church has reported.

“We wish to announce that the priest Fr. Donatus Cleophas has escaped from his abductors and has been reunited with us. However, it is with a deep sense of sadness and sorrow that we report the gruesome murder of Priest John Mark Cheitnum,” the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan said in a statement.

The clergyman has been released after a ransom was paid for him, the head of the Kaduna state of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Rev. John Joseph Hayab, told the BBC.

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The Church has also explained that the “decomposing” body of priest John Mark Cheitnum was discovered on Tuesday and described the attack as a “gruesome murder.”

In this context, the Nigerian Church has indicated that the clergyman was shot dead on Friday, the same day he was abducted.

The Christian clergymen were abducted at gunpoint in a village in Yadin Garu, Kaduna, after traveling there to attend a church function.

For his part, Reverend Hayab has told the BBC that after negotiations a ransom has been paid — although not the amount originally demanded — and the kidnappers have then revealed where Reverend Cheitnum’s body could be found.

“As we request prayers for the repose of our dear brother and God’s comfort for his family. We wish to humbly ask one and all to refrain from taking the laws into their own hands. The Diocese has declared two days of mourning.
for the peaceful repose of his soul and may he rest in peace”, the Church has sentenced.

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Since May, a dozen Christian clerics — mostly Catholics — have been abducted by gunmen across Nigeria and at least three of them have been killed by their captors.

Insecurity in Nigeria, previously centered in the northeast of the country, has spread in recent months to other areas in the north and northwest, raising alarms about the possible expansion of these terrorist and criminal networks.

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