Priest Slain in Colombian Region of Arauca

SARAVENA, Colombia, NOV. 5, 2003 ( An assailant shot and killed a Catholic priest and a hospital employee in the conflict-ridden Arauca region.

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Father Saulo Carreño, 41, and hospital employee Maritza Linares were slain Tuesday by one of two men on a motorcycle. The parish priest of Saravena’s Christ the King Church was driving his car near Sarare Hospital. The hospital employee was also in the car.

Colonel Luis Alcides Morales, chief of police of Arauca, offered on behalf of the Colombian government a $10,000 reward to anyone who can identify the murderers and assist in their arrest.

«This is a very sad occurrence,» Morales said. «The terrorists are attacking all those who collaborate with the communities, with the state.»

Bishop Carlos Germán Mesa of Arauca lamented the priest’s murder and appealed to armed groups to spare the civilian population from the conflict.

About 40,000 people have died violently in the last 10 years in this country of 40 million. At least 57 Catholic religious, including bishops, priests, missionaries and seminarians, have died at the hands of guerrillas.

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