16 Catholic Children Kidnapped in Angola

Were Attending Religious Service in Village of Kiluange

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LUANDA, Angola, OCT. 18, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Church in Angola denounced the kidnapping of 16 children and their relatives during a religious service in the village of Kiluange, in the municipality of Colungo Alto, Kwanza Norte.

According to the Catholic bishop of Kwanza Norte, the children are ages 7 to 14. Eleven are girls; five are boys.

They were attending an ecumenical service with their families when the church was attacked by a group of armed men, who took most of the congregation with them.

UNICEF and the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Angola strongly condemned all violations of children´s rights and called for the youngsters´ immediate release.

This is not the first time that children have been abducted. Similar abductions have occurred throughout Angola´s prolonged conflict. Most of these children have not been heard from since.

According to UNICEF, «children abducted in conflict countries are often used by armed groups to carry goods and ammunition, and to cook and clean.»

«In the worst cases, children, particularly young girls, may be sexually abused, and both girls and boys may be used in combat or as a defensive shield,» the U.N. Children´s Fund reported.

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