Father Walter William Rozario seen in his office at St. Louis High School at northern Natore district in this file photo. The priest has been missing since Nov. 27, which instilled fear and sadness among local Catholics ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Bangladesh. (Photo Credit: St. Paul Cafe)
Three Bangladeshi Islamic militants have blown themselves up during an anti-terror raid ahead of Pope Francis’ Nov. 30 arrival and in another incident a priest is feared to have been kidnapped.
The police raid on a militant hideout in Chapai Nawabganj district of northern Bangladesh took place on Nov. 28.
Mufti Mahmud Khan, director of the media wing of the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion, told reporters in Dhaka that the militants detonated suicidal vests to avoid capture.
Earlier, police officials said Bangladesh had boosted counter-terror operations as part of high level security for Pope Francis’ Nov. 30—Dec. 2 visit.
In the other incident, Father Walter William Rozario, 41, assistant parish priest of Maria Virgo Potens Church, has been missing since the evening of Nov. 27.
He is headmaster of church-run St. Louis High School at Borni in Natore district in the north of the country.
Father Rozario’s mobile phone has been switched off since then.
Sources in the parish told ucanews.com that the missing priest was engaged in preparing for the pope’s visit.
On Nov. 27, Father Rozario went to the Bonpara Christian stronghold area to oversee printing of a souvenir magazine dedicated to two local deacons to be ordained by Pope Francis in Dhaka on Dec. 1.
He disappeared on his way back to his parish by motorbike.
Local Church officials filed a police report on the disappearance.
"We have been doing everything to trace and rescue the priest," Shahriar Kabir, officer in-charge of the local police station involved, told ucanews.com.
It was yet to be determined whether abduction or personal enmity could be involved.
Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, whose diocese covers the district, expressed deep concern.
"We suspect this to be kidnapping case as we came to know he received calls from unknown people demanding money," Bishop Rozario said.