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Kidnappers are demanding a huge ransom for a Chaldean Archbishop abducted last week in northern Iraq, sending fear through the country's Christian community, a local priest said.

Since the Friday (February 29) kidnapping in Mosul, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho's captors have refused to decrease the amount of money they are demanding for his release, according to Father Najeeb Mikhail.

"They want money, but in addition they want to break all the Christians in Mosul," the priest said in a telephone conversation from Erbil.

Unknown armed men stopped Rahho, 65, at about 5:30 p.m. as he was leaving the Holy Spirit parish in Mosul, 225 miles north of Baghdad. The bishop had just finished leading the congregation in praying the Stations of the Cross and was returning to his home with his driver and two bodyguards.

According to Christian Iraqi website Ankawa.com, eyewitnesses said that four cars blocked Rahho's vehicle. Armed men shot and killed driver Faris Gorgis Khoder and the two guards, identified only as Ramy and Samir, before making off with Rahho.

A Christian who attended the funeral for the three men the following day in the village of Karamlis, 15 miles east of Mosul, said that the corpses had been shot in the face.

"All their faces were gone when we saw them," he said. "They were without eyes, without noses and without mouths."

Each of the three men left behind a wife and three children, Father Bashar Warda, dean of St. Peter's Seminary in Erbil, told Compass.

Mounting Threats

The Chaldean priest said that no one had been able to speak with the kidnapped archbishop since his abduction, making it difficult to know whether he remained alive.

"His health is one of the issues that concerns us because it is not good, and his medicine ...

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Kidnappers Demand Huge Ransom for Iraqi Bishop
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March 2008

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