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Priest killed in Congo, bishop warns of ‘dangerous’ situation


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A diocesan priest in Congo was killed Feb. 25 in an apparent attempted robbery.

The victim, Father Jean-Paul Kakule Kyalembera, served at a parish in Mweso, situated in North Kivu province. The pastor of the same parish had escaped an attempted homicide last November, according to Fides, the news agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Bishop Theophile Kaboy Ruboneka of Goma told Fides the incident seems to have been an act of “gangsterism.”

“The priest was closing the church door when he saw one or more bandits who were hiding somewhere,” he said. “The criminals shot without hesitation, hitting him in the abdomen and in the head. Father Kakule died instantly.”

Three suspects were arrested and interrogated by police, said the bishop. The priest’s funeral was scheduled for Feb. 28 in Goma.

The bishop said the situation in his diocese “is very dangerous” with “numerous gangs that terrorize the population” and “too many weapons in circulation.”

Priests and religious, including women religious, have been among the victims of violence and extortion in North Kivu.

“They are threatened with death if they do not pay ransom,” said the bishop.

The whereabouts of three Assumptionist priests, who were kidnapped from another parish in North Kivu in 2012, remain unknown.