Parish priest, 20 Christians kidnapped in Syria

Supporters of the Al-Nusra Front take part in a protest against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the international coalition in Aleppo, northern Syria on September 26, 2014 (AFP Photo/Fadi al-Halabi)

ROME (Reuters) - A parish priest and a number of Christians have been kidnapped from a Syrian village near the border with Turkey, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said on Tuesday. The Latin Patriarchate, which oversees Latin Church Catholics in Israel and neighbouring countries, said Father Hanna Jallouf had been kidnapped on the night of Oct. 5 in Knayeh, a small Christian village. It said his kidnappers were brigades linked to the Islamist Nusra Front. The statement said there had been no contact with the priest, whose church is part of the Catholic church, or his captors and added that a number of Franciscan nuns in the village had taken refuge with local people. Catholic news agency Fides, quoting Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo in Syria, said around 20 Christians were taken along with the priest. "Among the kidnapped are young people, both boys and girls," he was quoted as saying. The Latin Patriarchate said members of the Franciscan order had been present in the village for more than a century. Islamist fighters have targeted Christians, members of the Yazidi sect and Shi'ite Muslims in a campaign in Syria and neighbouring Iraq that has killed thousands and forced almost 2 million Iraqis to flee their homes. (The story is refiled to fix format.) (Reporting by James Mackenzie, editing by John Stonestreet and David Stamp)

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