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Syrian bishop appeals for release of kidnapped nuns

A girl stands a destroyed building in Syria (CNS)

A Syrian bishop has appealed for the release of 12 nuns kidnapped in the country last week.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Syriac Orthodox Bishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh of Homs and Hama said that he had not heard from the Sisters since their disappearance 10 days ago from the Convent of St Tekla in Ma’loula, a town north of Damascus. He added that he believed they are now being held 12 miles away in the town of Yabrud.

The bishop said: “I demand the immediate release of the nuns, who have done no harm to anyone. We’ve reached the point where even nuns are being abducted. What have they done wrong? It’s a crime. The abductors want to demonstrate that they know no mercy.

“The Sisters were neither on the side of the regime nor on that of the opposition. In the convent they took in war refugees without regard for their religion, including Muslims.”

On Sunday Pope Francis appealed for the release of the Sisters who were abducted on December 2 by a group of armed men. On the same day, Al Jazeera broadcast a video which appeared to show the Sisters explaining that they had been taken for their own safety. Bishop Alnemeh said it was unclear when the video clips were recorded or how they were made.

In another Aid to the Church in Need interview, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch said the nuns should be returned to the care of Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X of Antioch.