Christians held hostage in Syria

In addition to the 150 civilians who were detained earlier, another 130 Christians have been kidnapped in the village of Rableh, in western Syria on the border with Lebanon, by armed gangs in the area, creating a group of 280 hostages.

Local sources of Agenzia Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, report the hostages were crammed into a school in the village of Gousseh, while the kidnappers released the women that had been stopped previously. The armed kidnappers announced that they intend to wait for their head and then discuss any possible ransom.

The news agency reports: "In the Christian community of Rableh there is a lot of fear as yesterday three Christians, who had been kidnapped in the village of Said Naya a few days ago, were found murdered on the side of a road."

The agency says that according to a local priest, who asked to remain anonymous, "This is not a persecution, but a maneuver to spread suspicion and mistrust and incite sectarian war."

Agenzia Fides says the local committee of the Mussalaha is looking for dialogue and a peaceful solution.

"The point is that we are talking about 'unidentified armed gangs and out of control, they act independently and are not connected to the Free Syrian Army.' This makes any negotiations much more difficult," observed the news agency's source in the area.

According to Fides sources, in Syria there are currently about 2,000 armed groups not related to the Free Syrian Army, with their own agenda, that try to pollute the ongoing conflict between rebels and loyalists.