No proof kidnapped Syria bishops are free: Christian group
Rome: There is "no tangible proof" that two Orthdox bishops kidnapped in Syria have been released, an association of Middle Eastern Christians said Wednesday, going back on an earlier claim that the pair had been freed.
"Yesterday evening we received information from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate questioning the release of the two bishops," said Catherine Baumont, spokeswoman of the "Oeuvre d'Orient" association which works to help Middle Eastern Christians.
"Unfortunately no tangible proof of the release has been obtained. The situation remains unclear, and we still don't know who took them," Baumont told a news agency.
The Paris-based association had on Tuesday said that the two -- Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Bishop Boulos Yaziji, who were seized on Monday -- had been freed and were at the Saint Elias cathedral in Aleppo.
Jean Clement Jeanbart, Aleppo's Greek Melkite archbishop, has denied the reported release of the bishops, telling Catholic news agency Asianews that as far as he was aware "the two men were still prisoners".
Aleppo's Greek Orthodox archdiocese on Wednesday said it had no news on the two bishops.
"We have no new information," Ghassan Ward, a priest at the archdiocese, told a news agency. "We can say that (as far as we know) they haven't been freed," he added.
Greece's foreign ministry also cast doubt on the earlier announcement that the pair had been freed, saying in a statement overnight that that information "had not been officially confirmed".
The two men were kidnapped en route from the Turkish border, when armed men intercepted the car they were in, forcing them out of the vehicle in an area outside of Aleppo, Syrian state media and church sources have reported.