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Two Kenyan priests serving in Africa’s conflict zones killed

By Wainaina Wambu | November 23rd 2018
Father Joseph Oduor Afulo of Jesuits society shows a picture of late Father Luke Odhiambo who was shot and killed in Sudan by thugs. [David Gichuru/Standard]

Two Kenyan priests have been killed in the past one week in separate conflict zones in Africa.

Father Victor-Luke Odhiambo, a Jesuit priest for 40 years, was last week shot by unknown gunmen who stormed the local Society of Jesus (Jesuits) community centre in Cueibet, South Sudan, where he was the acting superior.

And on Wednesday night, Father Cosmas Ondari, who was part of the Mill Hill Missionaries, was killed in Kembong, Cameroon.

Father Victor was aged 62 years while Father Cosmas was 33 years old.

Father Joseph Oduor Afulo, of the Eastern Africa Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), said Father Victor was watching TV when the assailants struck.

“When one of them (attackers) entered the TV room, Father Victor struggled with him and was shouting as there were other Jesuits who were in their chambers. Students started coming out. They heard two gunshots and by the time they reached the room, he was lying dead,” he said.

One bullet hit the priest in the head while the other tore through his heart.

Inter-clan fighting

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Father Joseph said three of the four gunmen were arrested.

There has been a lot of inter-clan fighting in the area and people usually take refuge at the Jesuit centre.

Father Victor was buried on Monday in South Sudan.

Kenyan priests make up half of the 16 Jesuit priests serving in South Sudan.

Sister Marianne Odhiambo, Father Victor’s sister and a nun, remembered him as a committed person who valued education.

On Father Cosmas’ death, the Mill Hill Missionaries said, “funeral details will be sent when they are known.”

The priest was outside his church meeting refugees when government soldiers entered the church compound and started shooting.

He was hit in the thigh and chest and died on arrival at a local hospital.

Missionary work

Father Cosmas was ordained last year and had earlier done his missionary work in Bamenda, Cameroon, where he spent time visiting the sick and leading prayer services in the local parish.

According to the Mill Hill Missionaries, he received an appointment to the Diocese of Mamfe, Cameroon, in October 2016, which he took up shortly after his ordination.

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