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Uganda: Police Rescue 40 Christian Children in Kidnapping Scam

For information about the Orthodox Church in Uganda, see here.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of Christian persecution in Uganda, see here.

“Police Rescue 40 Christian Children in Kidnapping Scam,” Morning Star News, February 26, 2023:

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Police in Uganda have arrested two people in connection with the kidnapping of 40 Christian children lured by a Muslim posing as the leader of a Christian charity offering free education, sources said.

In Arua, in northwest Uganda’s West Nile Sub-Region, initial investigations alleged that 27-year-old Siraji Sabiri, a Muslim, had lured the children to a hotel with promises of school scholarships and was possibly planning to sell them to a rebel militant group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Police rescued 40 children from the hotel on Feb. 2.

A pastor in Arua first learned of the alleged scam from church members who told him a Christian organization was registering children for scholarships for a school in Luwero District, in central Uganda. Sabiri is a resident of Wakiso District, near Luwero.

“So parents made use of the opportunity to register for the offer of such scholarships,” said the pastor, whose name is withheld for security reasons. “On Feb. 2, an elder of mine informed me of many children from the church in a Continental Hotel in Arua town in West Nile Sub-Region. I got concerned and rang the police to check on the children, because I was not involved in the whole process.”

Officers rushed to the hotel, where they found the children ages 5 to 16 and learned that they had been booked on a bus heading to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the pastor said. Interrogations revealed that the leader, Sabiri, was not a Christian but a Muslim.

“The man had disguised himself as a Christian, hence he was able to register over 40 children in the name of offering them bursaries, yet with the intention of selling them to the ADF [Allied Democratic Forces] in Congo,” the pastor told Morning Star News.

Alice Akello, who as city commissioner of Arua is in charge of all government forces in the district, said she was surprised to find children as young as 5 years old at the hotel and asked Sabiri where they were going.

“At first Sabiri said he was taking the children to Al-Rahman Islamic Primary and Secondary School in Bombo, Luwero District,” Akello said. “After a lengthy interrogation, it was discovered that there was no school of such a name existing.”

Akello ordered the arrest of Sabiri, who traveled about 475 kilometers (295 miles) to northwest Uganda from Wakiso District to allegedly carry out the scheme, and the recovery of the children, she said….

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