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Hopes rise for priest abducted in Afghanistan

Jesuit Refugee Service hopes for release at end of Ramadan

Hopes rise for priest abducted in Afghanistan

Logo courtesy reporter, Kochi

July 9, 2014

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A Catholic priest abducted in Afghanistan last month is believed to be alive and may be released at the end of Ramadan in late July, the Jesuit Refugee Service says.

Jesuit Fr Alexis Prem Kumar, JRS' Afghanistan director, was abducted on June 2 by a group of armed men from a JRS sponsored school in Sohadat, western Afghanistan.

James Stapleton, JRS International's communication coordinator, told on Wednesday that the agency would not release updates on negotiations with the priest's captors to protect his safety. 

"There are things happening. But this is a delicate situation," Stapleton said, adding that they do not want to speculate on the group behind the abduction or the reasons for it.

The Jesuits are doing "everything in our power to ensure" the safety of the priest and expressed hope that by the end of Ramadan "those who have taken him will release him as a festive Eid al-Fitr gift", he said.

The statement said that JRS has worked "quietly to resolve this difficult situation," and had been in touch with Afghan and Indian authorities. The priest's family also held discussions with Indian government officials. 

The JRS statement said it feared Afghanistan's unstable political climate, may make the "process of his release more complicated than we had imagined".

JRS also announced that it had begun re-opening many of its schools in Afghanistan, which were closed last month in the wake of Fr Kumar's abduction.

"We remain committed to accompany our Afghan students and their families in their desire for quality education and re-opening our schools is a clear sign of that commitment," the statement said.

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