A Catholic priest from India, who was assigned to work in Afghanistan, was abducted on June 2 by unknown assailants. Rev. Prem Kumar SJ, 47, was seized while visiting a school for refugees in Sohadat, a village approximately 15 miles from Herat.
The Jesuits’ Provincial Superior for South Asia, Rev. Edward Mudavassery SJ confirmed the news. Rev. Kumar had been the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Afghanistan for the last four years. India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been made aware, as was the governor of Herat.
Monsignor Giuseppe Moretti, according to Fides news service, said "Let us live this moment, after the kidnapping of a Jesuit priest, in profound, silent prayer and full of hope. It is a sad moment which we hope will soon evolve positively. We ask the media for strict confidence, so that the institutional bodies can do their job and save Father Alexis Prem Kumar."
Rev. Moretti explained "The Jesuits have a community in Herat and carry out a service mainly in the field of education. They operate autonomously, via JRS, for humanitarian assistance."
"There is no concrete news concerning those who kidnapped Fr. Kumar. Kidnappings of foreigners are common throughout the country. We only know that he was kidnapped by armed men, they could be Taliban factions or common criminals."
The Jesuit Refugee Service is an arm of the worldwide Catholic Church that is sponsored by the Society of Jesus. The South Asia regional office provides care for more than 800,000 refugees, including Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, Sri Lankan refugees in India, and Afghan refugees. It provides medical care, education, professional training, psychological support, as well as community development.