April 12, 2017
NEWS 2017 - Four people have been arrested in Mali in connection with the February kidnapping of a nun who remains missing. According to press reports, a judge in the country charged four individuals this week.
“I confirm the indictment of four people on the grounds of kidnapping the Colombian Gloria Cecilia,” Boubacar Sidiki Samake, an anti-terrorism prosecutor, told Reuters.
According to Radio France Internationale, at least three of the four accused worked at the parish church in Karangasso. Two were drivers, and the other was a cook who prepared the food for the community.
Sister Gloria Cecilia Argoti Narvaez was originally from Colombia but worked in Mali until she was kidnapped earlier this year. Her fate is still unknown.
Armed men kidnapped Narvaez in the southern Mali city of Karangasso on February 7th. The men forced her to hand over the keys to the community’s ambulance. The vehicle was later found abandoned. Three other sisters were present at their house but escaped.
A member of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, Narvaez had served in Mali for 12 years. Her community administers a large health center in the country, as well as a home where they care for some 30 orphans between one and two years of age.
The religious sisters teach literacy to some 700 Muslim women. They are working on a barn project for times of food shortages, as many mothers in the region die from malnutrition.
Earlier this month, the Catholic bishops of Mali asked the general public to help secure Cecilia’s release.
“We are exploring all possible paths to obtain Sister Cecilia’s release and are calling upon the faithful to keep praying for her,” said Father Edmond Dembele, secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Mali, according to Fides news agency.
Dembele appealed to anyone with information about the kidnappers to contact authorities.
“Some people believe that bandits in the area kidnapped the sister in the hope of getting a ransom, and now do not know how to handle the situation,” he said. “Others believe jihadists kidnapped her.”
While jihadist groups like Al Qaeda operate in the north of Mali, Karangasso is far removed from their typical area of operations.
Crux staff contributed to this report.