Priest Killed, Another Kidnapped in Nigeria

Assault Against Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer in Malunfashi

priest killed
© Fides

A priest killed and another kidnapped. This is the toll of the assault perpetrated by unidentified armed men against the parish of St. Vincent Ferrer in Malunfashi, in the State of Katsina, in northern Nigeria, reported Fides News Agency.

The murdered priest is Father Alphonsus Bello, while the kidnapped is Father Joe Keke. The group of armed men who stormed the parish on the night of 20 May fired some shots and wounded some people.

The Director of National Social Communications of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Fr. Mike Umoh, confirmed the news and said that the criminals laid the lifeless body of Fr Alphonsus Bello on the farmland behind the catechetical training school, while the fate of Fr. Joe Keke is still unknown.

Umoh said: “Last night, one of the parishes in the diocese of Sokoto – the Catholic church of St. Vincent Ferrer in Malunfashi, in the state of Katsina – was attacked by unidentified gunmen. Two priests were kidnapped, Father Joe Keke and Alphonsus Bello. Father Keke, the former parish priest, is about 70 years old while Fr. Bello, the current murdered parish priest, was thirty years old”. “This morning (today May, 21) the body of Fr. Alphonsus Bello was found lifeless on the farmland behind the Catechetical Training School. We do not know where Fr. Joe Keke is. So far no contact has been made with the kidnappers”. Meanwhile, a reliable source from the Catholic diocese of Sokoto said the deceased priest belonged to the Archdiocese of Kaduna, but was destined for the diocese of Sokoto and engaged in the parish of Malumfashi in Katsina.

In an emphatic appeal, the Catholic Bishop of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria has called for Catholics all over the world to pray the rosary to stop the growing Islamist extremism in Africa. In a video message recorded for the pontifical foundation ACN International on the occasion of the presentation of the Religious Freedom Report 2021 in Great Britain, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme said, “For those who wish to help alongside aid organizations such as ACN, I ask that you pray for the end of violence, and pray particularly the rosary.”