Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Missionary Congregation Confirms Kidnapping of German Catholic Priest in Mali


Members of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) have confirmed the kidnapping of Fr. Hans-Joachim Lohre, a Catholic Priest of German nationality who went missing on Sunday, November 20 in a suspected forceful abduction.

The missionaries told the information service of Propaganda Fide, Agenzia Fides, that they fear the whereabouts of their confrere is still unknown.

“We know that the police have started looking for Fr. Hans-Joachim, but at the moment it is not yet known whether and which group may have kidnapped him,” the missionaries are quoted as saying in the Tuesday, November 22 Agenzia Fides report.

Known locally by the nickname "Ha-Jo", Fr. Hans-Joachim, 65, has lived in Mali for more than 30 years, according to the report. 

Agenzia Fides report indicates that the Priest’s car was found near the institute in the capital, Bamako, and investigators later found the chain with the Priest's broken cross next to his car. 

His car door was also reportedly open and there were footprints on the ground “as if someone had resisted” the suspected kidnapping, the news agency reports.

According to the information service of Propaganda Fide, the kidnapped missionary’s nationality may have attracted the interest of some groups operating in the West African country. 

Agenzia Fides reports that in Mali, the Bundeswehr, the German army, participates with some 1,200 soldiers in the UN MINUSMA mission. 

“Germany is one of the few European countries to still have its own military in Mali, after the withdrawal of those of France, while Great Britain also wants to follow suit. The Berlin government is also considering ending the mission, for which the German parliament has given a mandate until May 2023,” reports Agenzia Fides.

Several jihadist groups linked to both Al Qaeda and ISIS operate in Mali, and in the past they have been responsible for several kidnappings of foreigners, such as that of Sr. Gloria Cecilia Narváez, the Colombian missionary who was kidnapped on 7 February 2017 near Koutiala  in Mali, and released on 9 October 2021.