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Police Fired Tear Gas Grenades During Cathedral Church Service in Sudan

Assist News

January 3, 2007

KHARTOUM , SUDAN (ANS) — The Episcopal Church of the Sudan reports police attacked worshipers on New Year’s Eve, firing tear gas grenades inside All Saints’ Cathedral in Khartoum .

According to Paul Ciniraj of Salem Voice Ministries, many of the worshippers were injured and six of them were hospitalized.

Rev. Canon Sylvester Thomas, Provost of the Cathedral, said he did not know the reason for the attack. Twenty minutes after the New Year’s Eve service started, the explosions rang out insde the cathedral.

“There were nine gas grenades shot into the crowd of more than 500 worshippers. which included such eminent people as Abel Alair, the former Vice President of Sudan,” said Ciniraj.

“Among those injured were Alair’s wife and the secretary of Sudan ‘s current first vice president are among the injured and hospitalized, including someone burnt by a plastic chair that had caught fire.”

In the ensuing melee, several members of the congregation were beaten by baton-wielding policemen as they fled the building. Canon Thomas added.

Seated in front is Canon Sylvester Thomas. From Left to right Rev. Elia Komondan, Rev. Emmanuel Natania, Rev. Joseph Taban, Rev. Malis Alison, and Rev. Hassen El Fil. Ciniraj added, “While no official explanation for the attack has been given by the Islamist government in Khartoum , the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Sudani reported that police were pursuing a man who had carried out an assault with a knife and had tried to hide among the worshippers gathered outside the main door.

“However, it quoted Thomas as saying no one but worshippers were at the door.

“A majority of Sudan ‘s population is Muslim, but there is a sizeable Christian minority, particularly in the south and in the capital.”

A spokesman for the Church of the Sudan ‘s provincial office in Juba told The Living Church a protest would be filed with the government over the incident.

All Saints Cathedral- Khartoum belongs to the Diocese of Khartoum of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ESC). The present Cathedral is a new site which was given by the Sudan government to replace the old Cathedral near to the Republican palace. The foundation of the old Cathedral was laid in 1904 and was consecrated and opened in 1912. The consecration of the new church was done on the 18th of September 1983, at which Oliver Alison, the Last English Bishop to leave Sudan, was invited back to preach on the occasion, SVM News reported.

The Rev. Canon Sylvester Thomas was appointed Acting provost by the Bishop of Khartoum Diocese, on the 25th December 2000, and was confirmed in the office, the following year to become the 3rd Sudanese provost For the Cathedral. Rev. Elia Komondan, Rev. Emmanuel Natania, Rev. Joseph Taban, Rev. Malis Alison, and Rev. Hassen El Fil are also assisting in this Cathedral.

The Episcopal Church is an autonomous province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The present Bishop of Khartoum Diocese is the Rt. Rev. Bulus Idris Tia, who is the second Sudanese Bishop of Khartoum .