A would-be assassin failed to harm Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako during an Oct. 10 Mass celebrating the feast of St. Daniel Comboni. The knife-wielding suspect had reportedly tried to blend in with liturgical dancers.
Cardinal Wako, who is the Archbishop of Khartoum, was leading the Mass at the Comboni Playground in the capital city when Hamdan Mohamed Abdurrahman, a Misseriya Arab from Southern Kordofan state, infiltrated the crowd.
The man disguised himself and joined the liturgical dancers at the crowded stage where the altar had been set up, the Catholic Information Service of Africa (CISA) reports. He proceeded up to the stage amid the dancers and pretended to dance while waving a dagger.
The assassin was within four steps of the stage when Master of Ceremonies Barnaba Matuec Anei, seated next to the cardinal, spotted him. Matuec caught and disarmed the man before handing him over to the security guards.
Matuec told CISA that Hamdan might have infiltrated the area early enough to hide himself among the faithful. There was “very intense” security at the gates.
“We want to find out what was his mission in the Church was, and why he did carry a dagger with him. After that, we will see what to do next. We must know his background and identity. If he has people backing him to carry out such actions in the church, we would like to know,” he added.
Angelo Akot Malek Akot, the police officer in charge of security during the Mass, said he saw a man ascending the stage during the incident. After Matuec had cornered the man, the officer ran to the crowd, which had surrounded the man and wanted to beat him up. He then disarmed Hamdan.
The would-be assassin has been detained at the police station in Khartoum and will be taken to court for further action.
Two other bishops shared the stage with Cardinal Wako: coadjutor bishop of El-Obeid Michael Didi and a Comboni Bishop from Ethiopia who was in the country to celebrate the feast of the saint.
St. Daniel Comboni founded the Catholic Church in the Sudan. Cardinal Wako is his seventh successor as Archbishop of Khartoum and is the first Sudanese bishop to hold the office.
An upcoming vote on the secession of Southern Sudan has caused tensions in the country, which suffered decades of civil war. International experts have warned the lives of Christians in Northern Sudan will be in danger if the south secedes, CISA says.