Vatican says archbishop kidnapped in Iraq

The Associated Press
Jan 17 2005

Vatican says archbishop kidnapped in Iraq


VATICAN CITY — A Catholic archbishop in Mosul, Iraq, has been
kidnapped, the Vatican said Monday.

It identified the kidnapped man as Archbishop Basile Georges
Casmoussa, 66, of the Syrian Catholic Church, one of the branches of
the Roman Catholic Church.

“The Holy See deplores in the firmest way such a terrorist act,” a
Vatican statement said, demanding that he be freed immediately.

A priest in Iraq said on condition of anonymity that the archbishop
was walking in front of the Al-Bishara church in Mosul’s eastern
neighborhood of Muhandeseen when gunmen forced him into a car and
drove away.

Mosul is a northern Iraqi city that in recent months has been a
hotspot of violent insurgency.

The reason for the kidnapping was unclear, but Christians — tens of
thousands of whom live in and around Mosul — have been subjected to
attacks in the past.

Christians make up just 3 percent of Iraq’s 26 million people. The
major Christian groups in Iraq include Chaldean-Assyrians and
Armenians. There are small numbers of Roman Catholics.

Officials estimate that as many as 15,000 Iraqi Christians have left
the country since August, when four churches in Baghdad and one in
Mosul were attacked in a coordinated series of car bombings. The
attacks killed 12 people and injured 61 others.

Another church was bombed in Baghdad in September.

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