MESSAGE FROM FR. SALAKO ON THE KIDNAPPING OF HIS MISSIONARY PRIEST
Good morning, Father:
I am writing you this letter to describe the events related to Fr. Maccalli’s abduction and detention in captivity. This is my own personal geopolitical analysis of what I saw and heard at the various meetings in Niger.
On Monday the 17th of September, 2018, at 9:47 PM, some armed men attacked Fr. Maccalli’s office. His door has always been open to welcome people of every culture and religion. Anyone came at any time to share their joys and sorrows with him. Some came for spiritual care while others for physical care. He was also a physician of soul and body—a pharmacist, an exorcist, etc. He was a good bush pastor. I find it difficult to talk about him in the past because I believe he is going to come back to us soon, my faith and the efforts made by people here and there makes me feel so.
From the few gun shots in the air and from the ammunition socket seen, it was discovered that the guns used were hunting rifles. These were used to frighten co-inhabitants and passers-by. His captors tied him up and took him away together. This incident took place right before the neighbors, they were frightened that they hid behind their windows. Fortunately on that evening the Assistant Priest went to bed earlier, and when he heard the gunshots, he thought it was all about firecrackers. It was one of the employees who came to pray in the mission compound [who] alerted him of the tragedy.
The news of the tragedy went very fast, telephones rang everywhere. The news got to me around 10:30 PM. I was able to get in touch with the Bishop, and then to the Generalate, to the Assistant Parish Priest and to others. Meanwhile, while the kidnappers were running away, the news was spreading everywhere. Both civil and military authorities were informed.
The information also got to the villagers that are situated on the other side of a river, a river that they had to cross before they could get to Burkina [Faso]. The villagers removed all canoes so as to prevent them from escaping Nigerien territory and then, the kidnappers themselves remained on the Nigerien territory until morning before getting the help of a resident to cross over to Burkina.
I did not sleep that night because there were so many telephone calls. I was frightened, helplessness, frustrated, etc. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, I took the first flight to Niamey.
Meanwhile, I got information about the situation in Burkina. The information was that a search operation was done to cleanse the refugee camps of criminals—with dozens of victims. The kidnappers of Maccalli found their ways into Niger, a place where he might have been at on the 24th of September.
The kidnapping of Maccalli seems to be an unimagined center of interest for the authorities over there. First of all, the Nigerien State that claims to be sovereign is unable to guarantee security to its own citizens. The state wants to transform the context into a platform of affirmation of sovereignty. This tragedy is a perfect opportunity for them to solve their security problem. The opposition wants to take advantage of the situation to solve the global problem of the isolation of their own ethnic group.
Continue to pray for us.
(Fr. Salako, S.M.A.)