ISTANBUL, March 6 (Compass Direct News) — Kidnappers have set today as the ransom deadline for the release of an Iraqi Archbishop abducted last week, a church leader said.
The unidentified captors also added new conditions for the release of Archbishop Paulus Faraj Rahho, said Kirkuk Chaldean Archbishop Luis Sako. He declined to give further details in the interest of Rahho’s safety.
A church source close to the negotiations described the new conditions to Compass as “impossible to fulfill,” requiring Iraq’s Christians to carry out violent acts and actively support a particular political agenda. He said that the ransom sum had been raised to $2.5 million.
Rahho, 65, was kidnapped last Friday (February 29) at approximately 5:30 p.m. while leaving the Holy Spirit parish in Mosul, 225 miles north of Baghdad. The Mosul Chaldean archbishop had just finished presiding over the Stations of the Cross with his congregation and was returning home when armed militants in four vehicles blocked his path. They gunned down his two bodyguards and driver and took him by force.
The extravagant nature of the kidnappers” demands appears to indicate that their motives are political and religious, rather than only financial.
Christian leaders in the area told Compass they expected the kidnapping to lead to a wave of Christians fleeing Mosul.
Sako said that church leaders negotiating with the kidnappers had yet to hear Archbishop Rahho’s voice on the telephone, creating doubt as to whether he is still alive. Kidnappers in Iraq have at times murdered Christian priests even after taking a ransom payment for their release.