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.
….As we enter the first months of 2022, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.