Syria: armed men enter Mar Musa monastery

24 February, 18:41

(ANSAmed) - BEIRUT, FEBRUARY 24 - Around thirty armed men with their faces covered, except their leader, have threatened and mistreated nuns, monks, clerics and pastors in the Monastery of Mar Musa, north of Damascus. The monastery has been led for years by the Italian Jesuit monk Father Paolo Dall'Oglio. The news was reported to ANSA by Father Paolo, who explained that the accident took place on Wednesday. A statement sent to ANSA from Beirut by Father Paolo, who is now in Mar Musa but was in Damascus when the incident took place, specifies that ''around thirty armed men entered the monastery's stables where some people were working. They caused a total chaos, looking for money and weapons and asked for the person in charge.'' The monks of Mar Musa are not certain about the identity of the armed group: ''They appeared to be men who regularly use weapons to gain material interest. One of the pastors was forced to lead part of the group to another wing of the monastery, where four nuns were making preparations for prayer. Immediately after, some of the attackers went to the church. The monastic community, united for meditation, reminded them that the church is a holy place that deserves respect. The armed men then forced those present, making threats against them, to gather in a corner of the church. They also seized other people in the monastery, treating them brutally.'' ''After that,'' the statement continues, ''they started to look for arms and money, not finding any, destroying the communication devices they found. The leader of the group took pictures with his mobile phone. After that, he allowed the prayer to be resumed and ordered all present to stay in the church for an hour. The question remains why they were looking for weapons in a monastery that made the choice for non-violence many years ago.'' (ANSAmed).

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