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Fate of British missionary in West Africa remains a mystery

Despite news that he was safe and about to be released, Church authorities are become increasingly worried about the fate of Fr Garry Jenkins of the SMA (Society of Missions of Africa), who was abducted around ten days ago.

Held hostage by the rebels of the LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) in his parish north of the Liberian capital of Monrovia, Fr Jenkins was supposed to have been released on Monday in Conakry, capital of Guinea. A few days ago, the LURD rebels were said to have "accompanied" him to a place where he was to be handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Sources of the Rome-based MISNA news agency report that "something went wrong" at the last moment, and Fr Jenkins failed to appear. The Apostolic Nuncio in Guinea, Monsignor Alberto Bottari, UK diplomats, and journalists had been on hand for the handover that did not occur.

MISNA says it is "impossible to establish the exact whereabouts of the missionary or his condition".

"I cannot hide that we are in a moment of great preoccupation and frustration," Monsignor Bottari told MISNA "We are doing everything we can for this episode to end as fast as possible".


29 May 2002