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Ugandan seminarians speak about kidnap ordeal


While rebels continue to hold most of the 40 seminarians kidnapped in Uganda last week, the five who escaped have revealed that two were killed because they were too weak to walk on a forced march.

At least to others are reported to have been killed.

Parish priest Fr Cosimo de Iaco named the "weak" seminarians as Patrik Oyek and Deogratias Wokorac. They were aged 19 and 13. However their bodies, as well as those of the other two - 17 and 18 year old Geoffrey Okello and William Akena - have not yet been found.

"Patrik and Deogratias were both of weak build, as often occurs when you grow up with little nourishment", explained Fr Cosimo.

"Deogratias in particular was very slight and had problems with his feet, also his mother told me in tears that he would never had made it long in the bush, but he was a courageous boy".

The abducted youths were divided into small groups and forced to carry heavy sacks of provisions, such as food, medicine, water and at times weapons of the rebels. If they slow down during the march, they are repeatedly beaten.

Six of the seminarians have so far managed to escape rebel custody. The rebel commanders apparently 'shared out' the more than 30 they continue to hold, and have now headed in different directions in the territory north of Gulu.

The Church is concerned that rescue attempts of the Ugandan military are putting the seminarians' lives at risk. Archbishop John Baptist Odama appealed to the military division of Gulu to proceed with caution.

SOURCE
Independent Catholic News/MISNA

LINKS
Uganda Army searching for 40 abducted seminarians (13/5/03)


23 May 2003