Bishop: Kenyan priest killed in Cameroon was shot by government soldiers

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — Although official reports say Mill Hill Father Cosmas Omboto Ondari was caught in the crossfire of government and opposition forces, the local bishop says Father Ondari was killed by government soldiers.

Bishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Mamfe, Cameroon, said the 33-year-old Kenyan priest was shot dead Nov. 21 just outside St. Martin of Tours Parish, Kembong.

In a statement issued Nov. 22, the bishop said he visited the parish, “and I personally counted 21 bullet holes made on the church building of Kembong where, at time, the priest, the catechist and many Christians were carrying out various activities in the mission compound. The blood of the murdered priest was still clearly seen on the cemented entrance to the church, just at the door. He died right in the house of God, and it is our prayer that God, whom he served so well, will welcome him into his eternal kingdom.”

Father Richard Njoroge, in purple stole, and others pray over the body of Kenyan Mill Hill Father Cosmas Omboto Ondari, parochial vicar of St. Martin of Tours Parish in Kembong, Cameroon, who was killed Nov. 21 outside his church. (CNS photo/courtesy Mill Hill Fathers)

“Eyewitness accounts say that he was killed by government soldiers, who were shooting at random from their passing vehicle,” the bishop said. Another man also was shot.

“The forces of evil are on a rampage against the church of God but, as Christians, we believe in the promise of Christ that the gates of underworld will never prevail over the church,” the bishop said, adding, “We will remain vigilant.”

He called for a thorough investigation and expressed sympathy for Father Ondari’s friends and family.

“We trust that he died doing what he had offered his life for. He was serving humanity far from home and family, but he was one with the people of Kembong, who loved him so well and whom he loved so much,” said bishop.

In July, Father Alexander Sob was killed in Cameroon, and his bishop also disputed reports of a stray bullet. In October, Charles Truman Wesco, a Baptist missionary from Indiana, was killed near Bambui, Cameroon, as he traveled to the market with members of his family.

At a Nov. 27 news conference in Kenya, the nation’s bishops condemned Father Ondari’s killing and also the November death of Jesuit Father Victor Luka Odhiambo, killed Nov. 15 in South Sudan.

“Our two priests died in countries that are in conflicts, although this can hardly justify as to why they had to lose their lives,” said Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde of Mombasa. He called for investigations into the two deaths.

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