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Gunmen kill Catholic cleric, abduct another in Katsina

Gunmen on Thursday night, reportedly killed a Catholic priest, Rev Father Alphonsus Bello at the Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church Malunfashi, Katsina State.

Reports had it that ater killing Bello, they abducted another priest, Rev. Fr. Joe Keke.

It was gathered that the gunmen stormed the Catholic parish and started shooting into the air, injuring some people in the process.

Confirming the incident, the National Social Communications Director, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Padre Mike Umoh, said the suspected bandits dumped the lifeless body of Father Alphonsus Bello in the farmland behind the Catechetical Training School, Malunfashi while the whereabouts of Fr. Joe Keke were still unknown.

The Director of Communications for Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Fr. Chris Omotosho, in a note to the national communications office of Catholic Secretariat in Abuja further confirmed the incident.

He said the attack was carried out at about 11.30pm and that Fr. Alphonsus Bello was the parish priest of St. Vincent while Fr Joe Keke, 75 years, was a priest in residence.

Umoh said: “Last night, one of the parishes of the Sokoto Diocese – St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church Malunfashi, in Katsina state – was attacked by unknown gunmen.

“Two priests were kidnapped, Frs. Joe Keke and Alphonsus Bello. Fr Keke, the former parish priest, is in his late 70s while Fr. Bello, the current parish priest, is in his 30s.

“The lifeless body of Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Bello was found this morning, Friday May 21, 2021, on the farmland behind the Catechetical Training School, Malumfashi in Katsina State, which is part of Sokoto diocese under Bishop Matthew Kukah.

“This morning (Friday) the body of Fr Alphonsus Bello was found lifeless in the farmland behind the Catechetical Training School, Malunfashi. However, the whereabouts of Fr. Joe Keke is still unknown. No contact has been made thus far.”

A reliable source in the Catholic diocese of Sokoto said the deceased priest belonged to the Kaduna Archdiocese but was on Secondment in Sokoto Diocese and deployed to the Malumfashi parish in Katsina.

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