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Kidnapped Jesuit Priest, held captive in Afghanistan, is freed and back home

2015-02-23

The nightmare is over... After being kidnapped for eight months in Afghanistan, Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar, is now free and back home with his family in India.  His friends and colleagues with the Jesuit Refugee Service, got a phone call with the good news. 

JAMES STAPLETON 
Jesuit Refugee Service
"Shock, elation. There has been a lot of tension in the organization. When someone is kidnapped, it’s not just the effect on the people who were closest, it has the effect on the whole way through the organization.” 

The details of his release are not being shared. But at least on one occasion, the captors did ask for a ransom. The Jesuit Refugee Service says the Indian and Afghan government played key roles in his release. 

The 47 year-old Jesuit priest was kidnapped back in June 2014, near the Afghan city of Herat, where he taught in a nearby school. Armed men, with apparent ties to the Taliban, began to threaten him. 

JAMES STAPLETON 
Jesuit Refugee Service
"We know he tried to run and he grabbed him and they pushed him into a car. That’s when his nightmare started. The scars we won’t know about are the wounds which will be the physiological scars.” 

The Jesuit Refugee Service operates in many warn torn countries, including Afghanistan, Northern Iraq and Syria. Security was never overlooked, but Prem Kumar's kidnapping was a wake up call. Since then, security training has increased all around. Especially given the high tension in many Middle Eastern countries. 

JAMES STAPLETON 
Jesuit Refugee Service
"To be able to read those signs when they are changing. We need to have better security mechanisms.To provide our teams with the training, procedures and know how to be able to save lives. Not just their lives but the lives of the people we are serving.”
 
When asked, about his eight month ordeal, Fr. Prem Kumar said he's not ready to talk about the experience just yet.  He said, he's just happy to be back home. 


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