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Authorities in Nigeria say that two Catholic priests have been abducted in the northern state of Kaduna.

Father John Mark Cheitnum, left, and Father Denatus Cleopas, right. Photos courtesy of Archdiocese of Kaduna.

According to a local diocese in the region, Father John Mark Cheitnum and Donatus Cleopas were abducted in the small town of Lere (Kaduna region). The two priests were on their way back from the Christ the King Catholic Church when they were abducted around 5:45 PM.

Map showing the Kaduna region of Nigeria

In a statement, a local priest that’s part of the diocese said “may Jesus, crucified on the cross, listen to our prayers and hasten the unconditional release of his priests and all other kidnapped persons. We will use every legitimate means to ensure their quick and safe release.”

Christ the King Catholic Church in Lere, Nigeria

The priest’s abduction now adds to a growing list of Nigerian priests kidnapped in 2022. According to police, 20 Nigerian priests have been kidnapped this year, with three ultimately being killed by their hostage takers.

Police say that the increase in priest abductions could be due to churches paying ransoms. According to security expert David Otto, the director of the Geneva Centre for Africa Security and Strategic Studies, ransoms paid by catholic churches in Africa have reached up to $200,000.


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