Five Arrested over Priest Kidnapping in Turkey

Five people have been arrested over the kidnapping of a priest from the ancient Syriac Christian community in southeast Turkey, Anatolia news agency reported.

The priest, Edip Daniel Savci, was set free Friday in Batman, the main city of the province of the same name, two days after his car had been found abandoned near Midyat in the neighboring province of Mardin.

A search was launched after a local clergyman told authorities he had received a 300,000-euro (444,000-dollar) ransom demand for the priest.

Three of the five suspects were picked up in Batman province and two in Midyat, Anatolia said quoting security forces.

Press reports said Saturday that the priest said he was abducted by three men but freed by one of them who felt remorse.

The Syriac Orthodox community is one of the world’s oldest Christian denominations, whose original congregations also settled into what is today Iraq, Syria and the Lebanon.

There are about 25,000 members of the community in Turkey, concentrated in Mardin, in the restive mainly Kurdish southeast, and in Istanbul.

Christians in Turkey were the victims of two recent attacks. An Italian Roman Catholic priest was shot dead last year and three Protestants — a German missionary and two Turkish converts — had their throats slit in April.(AFP)

Beirut, 02 Dec 07, 11:50