UCA News

Sri Lanka


Updated: August 21, 1990 05:00 PM GMT
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A priest who disappeared Aug. 15 while giving a Tamil boy a lift on his motorcycle is missing and presumed dead.

American Jesuit Father Eugene J. Herbert, assigned to the diocese of Trincomalee-Batticaloa, was the third priest to fall victim to recent sectarian violence in northeastern Sri Lanka.

Jesuit Provincial Father Anton Peiris told UCA News, "No positive report has reached us. No trace has been found and hence the natural conclusion we draw is that he has been killed."

The national news media reported Father Herbert´s death Aug. 18, quoting Tamil sources as saying he was not involved in politics.

Father Herbert´s fellow priests in Batticaloa celebrated Mass for him the same day.

Father Peiris confirmed that the missing priest had no political involvements but added that Eravur, the area north of Batticaloa where Father Herbert disappeared, was dangerous after the Aug. 10 massacre of nearly 200 Muslims by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Traveling with a Tamil in this area could have led to the priest´s disappearance, Father Peiris said, adding that Bishop Kingsley Swampillai of Trincomalee-Batticaloa diocese has asked priests in remote areas of the diocese to move to towns.

In July, diocesan Father S. Selvarajah disappeared in Sorikalmunai, south of Batticaloa. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Muslims attacked another diocesan priest, Father A. Ambrose, in Palankuddah, south of Batticaloa. The military airlifted the comatose priest to Colombo according to July 19 media reports.

The reports said the priest was stoned while helping a Tamil transport his son´s corpse through a Muslim village.


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