A parish priest and his secretary were gunned down in the northeastern Columbian town of Saravena this Tuesday, according to reports from the local police.
Officials said Father Saulo Carreño, pastor of Christ the King parish, and his secretary Maritza Linares, were traveling by car when they were overtaken by several unknown people and murdered. Authorities do not have any suspects but they pointed out, “All these crimes are the work of illegal groups who are attacking any and everyone who works with local communities and the State.
Father Carreño was well-known for his community service and enjoyed a good relationship with local authorities.
Bishop Carlos Germán Mesa of Arauca condemned the assassination of Father Carreño y pleaded for an end to violence, asking illegal militant groups to cease targeting the civilian population and allow people to live in peace and without fear. Bishop Mesa, who was meeting with other Bishops in northern Columbian, immediately returned to his diocese to attend the wake for the two victims.
The Catholic Church in Columbia has long been the target of violent attacks by drug traffickers, guerrilla members, militants and common criminals, with more than 50 assassinations of religious and clergy (bishops, priests, missionaries), and more than 20 kidnappings since 1984.