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Detention of missionaries a "terrible misunderstanding"

A "terrible misunderstanding" is how Church sources in Uganda described the 24-hour detention of three Comboni missionaries by the country's army.

The missionaries were detained on Wednesday when soldiers levelled a house occupied by militiamen of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army near the Sudanese border.

During the firing between the troops and guerrillas, Spanish missionary Fr Carlos Rodríguez Soto was wounded in the leg.

He and Italian missionaries Fr Tarcisio Pazzaglia and Fr Giulio Albanese were interrogated by the military authorities in the city of Gulu, scene of clashes between the insurgents and the security forces. Fr Albanese is editor in chief of the MISNA news agency.

Fr Albanese told MISNA: "I hope that our experience served to inform as many people as possible of the tragedy these people have been living for over 15 years."

MISNA also published a statement by Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, suggesting the important thing is that the incident "ended for the best" and that "dialogue continues its course in North Uganda so as to give this afflicted land a little peace."

The Church in Uganda has played a key role in peace negotiations. Archbishop Odama was a player in a secret phase of negotiations that led, for the first time in 15 years, to direct contacts between the Ugandan leadership and rebels.

Uganda Frees 3 Roman Catholic Priests (VOA)
Ugandan Army Frees Spanish and Italian Priests (Reuters)


2 Sep 2002