Jihadists in Syria kidnapped a Catholic priest in the Idlib area and beheaded him as scores of onlookers, including children, cheered and recorded the event on their cell phones.
The Vatican reported last week that father François Murad was captured by fighters “linked” to the Al Nusrah Front for the People in the Levant, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
Father Murad was reportedly accused of collaborating with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, though the accusations are unconfirmed.
The Vatican confirmed that Father François Murad was killed on June 23 after jihadists affiliated with the Al Nusrah Front overran his monastery in Gassanieh, a town in the countryside in the northern province of Idlib.
“According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al Nusrah [the Al Nusrah Front],” said the Fides News Agency
Christians in Syria have increasingly been targeted by Islamists, who believe Christians are colluding with government forces in the Syrian civil war. On June 28, a suicide bomber detonated his vest outside a church in a Christian neighborhood in Damascus, killing four people. It is unclear if the bomber was targeting the church or a nearby pro-government militia.
On April 22, two senior Christian leaders in the region, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop John Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yagizi, were kidnapped near the Turkish border, and their driver was killed.