Guerrillas abduct 17 Catholics from Sudan church

LONDON -- A Sudanese bishop has appealed for international help to stop roving bands of guerrillas kidnapping and murdering villagers in his diocese.

Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala of Tambura-Yambio, Sudan, said his government appeared powerless to prevent attacks by members of the Lord's Resistance Army, a guerrilla force based in northern Uganda.

He spoke to the British charity Aid to the Church in Need after a spate of killings and abductions in two towns near the borders of the Central African Republic and Congo.

In one case guerrillas stormed into a Catholic church in Ezo and desecrated the Eucharist, the altar and the building before abducting 17 people, mostly in their teens and 20s. One of the captives was later found dead after being tied to a tree and mutilated, while 13 others in the group remain missing, said a Sept. 18 statement by Aid to the Church in Need.

The bishop said that after the Aug. 15 attack, "people kept coming to me with such suffering in their eyes, begging me to do something about the situation -- to get back their children and grandchildren who have disappeared."

Bishop Kussala said the attack in Ezo was part of a cycle of violence that could only be broken with international cooperation.

"The government here cannot make a real difference to the LRA problem," he said. "They kept promising that they had the issue under control, but now we see the reality.

"Nobody is coming to our aid," he added. "We are asking those who are responsible in the international community to do something about it."

A week after the first attack six people were ambushed in a forest near the town of Nzara; they died after they were nailed to pieces of wood fastened to the ground. At about the same time another 12 people were abducted from a nearby village.

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