Southern Sudan Christians in north targeted for forcible conscription into rebel militias.KHARTOUM, Sudan, February 15 (CDN) — Two Catholic priests abducted at gunpoint in Rabak, Sudan last month have been released amid a wave of forcible conscriptions into rebel southern militias.
Their captors – South Sudanese militiamen loyal to (north) Sudan’s Islamic government – accused the Rev. Joseph Makwey and the Rev. Sylvester Mogga of ties to the South Sudan military. South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan on July 9, 2011, has been in military conflict with (north) Sudan over border areas while staving off southern rebel militias.
“They knew we were just priests, yet they ‘arrested’ us,” Mogga told Compass.
The two priests were kidnapped from the compound of St. Josephine Bakhita Catholic Church on Jan. 15 and were released two weeks later, they said. For security reasons they would not discuss conditions of their release, but the kidnappers had demanded 500,000 Sudanese pounds (US$185,530); press reports indicated no ransom was paid and that they were released after pressure from influential groups including the government in Khartoum.
Christians in Sudan have complained of a spike in threats against them by South Sudanese militias rebelling against the new South Sudan government. The South Sudanese rebels go house-to-house in Khartoum and other towns in the north abducting mainly Christian men, Christian sources said; hundreds of young men have been forcibly conscripted, while older men are either killed or ransomed.
The kidnappers tortured the two clergymen physically and psychologically, and they are now undergoing medical treatment, sources said; they will require more time to recover.