A deacon who is set to be ordained a priest next month and a layman were wounded early Sunday morning in Colombia in an attack by a group of armed men who fired indiscriminately at the vehicle in which they were traveling.

Deacon Fredy Muñoz and layman Eider Bototo of St. Lawrence Parish in the town of Caldono in the Cauca administrative district of Colombia were returning from the village of La Esmeralda where they had conducted a parish mission. Caldono is about 370 miles southwest of Bogota by car.

The attack took place at approximately 2:30 a.m. on July 2. The car — which was struck with 36 bullets — is owned by the pastor, Father Javier Humberto Porras Gómez. The radio station Blu Pacifico tweeted that the victims were seriously injured.

According to the Association of Ukawe Sx Nasa Cxhab City Councils, “when they were returning to the municipal seat of Caldono near La Piscina they were intercepted by several masked men who fired their weapons indiscriminately.”

The Archdiocese of Popayán, where the municipality of Caldono is located, has expressed its “profound concern” over the violent attack on Bototo and Muñoz, “who would be ordained a priest next month.”

“We strongly condemn this attack that could have mowed down the lives of two people who on behalf of the Gospel are totally at the service of this community,” the archdiocese said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“Miraculously, their injuries are not seriously life-threatening today. Their injuries remind us, however, of the wounds of the entire civil society of Cauca who are ongoing victims of this armed violence beyond all principles of rationality and respect for international humanitarian law,” the archdiocese said.

According to the people’s ombudsman’s office, the municipality of Caldono is at extreme risk due to the presence of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that refused to accept the 2016 peace agreement reached with the government.

According to the government’s Early Warning 019-2022, those at risk from the armed groups are Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, ethnic government officials, children, students, women, adolescents, farmers; teachers, public servants, human rights defenders, and community leaders.

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The Archdiocese of Popayán reminded the illegal groups that “war has parameters, that not everything is allowed.”

“However, as the Catholic Church we reaffirm our unrelenting commitment to search for and build peace in [Cauca] and for our country. Each violent act in our territories demands a greater commitment from us for this purpose; we cannot continue postponing the profound longing for a reconciled and peaceful Colombia,” the statement concluded.

The U.N. Verification Mission in Colombia also condemned the attack and expressed its solidarity “with the Catholic Church, a fundamental promoter of the construction of peace and reconciliation in the territories.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.