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Colombian rebels kidnap bishop

The smaller of Colombia's two main leftist rebel groups kidnapped a Catholic bishop but planned to set him free bearing a political message for the government.

Associated Press reports that Bishop Misael Vacca Ramirez of Yopal was travelling with two other priests and a local mayor in the eastern Casanare region on Saturday when they were stopped by members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN. It says the information was provided by Monsignor Fabian Marulanda, secretary-general of the Bishop's Conference.

The rebels held them overnight near the town of Morcote, 400 kilometres northeast of Bogota, before freeing the two priests and the mayor. They wouldn't release Vacca Ramirez, 48, however, and said he would be freed unharmed at a later date with a message.

Meanwhile in Chile, a man has killed an Italian priest, slitting his throat, just after the priest finished mass at Santiago's Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday.

The man slit Fr Faustino Gazziero's throat as he walked down the altar toward the vestry, still holding the chalice, witnesses said.

Some witnesses told local media that the attacker, identified as 25-year-old Rodrigo Orias, cried "Satan!" as he jumped toward the 69-year-old priest.

Colombian Rebels Kidnap Catholic Bishop (The Guardian/Associated Press 26/7/04)
Knife man kills priest in church (Associated Press/The Australian 27/7/04)

Rebels kidnap Catholic bishop (The Australian 27/7/04)
Colombian Rebels Kidnap Bishop 'To Send Message' (Reuters 26/7/04)
Priest's throat slit in cathedral (Herald-Sun 26/7/04)

27 Jul 2004