Misna said on Tuesday it had been told of the release of Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa by Monsignor Petros Mouche, the vicar-general of the archdiocese of Mosul. Mouche told the agency no ransom had been paid.

 

A group of unidentified armed men in the northern Iraqi city had demanded a ransom of $200,000 for the release of the Casmusa, Misna had reported.

 

The 66-year-old leader of the city's Syrian Catholic community was seized at about 5pm local time (1400 GMT) on Monday as he was about to enter his car, Chaldean priest Father Faraj said on Monday.

The Chaldean patriarch in Baghdad, Emmanuel Delly, had said Casmusa "was abducted outside his home as he was returning from a pastoral visit in the diocese of Mosul".

"He was abducted and taken off in a car. We don't know who took him, nor the reason why," Delly had said.

Release demanded

The Vatican announced the abduction on Monday night and demanded his immediate release.

Churches in Mosul and Baghdad
came under attack in October

"The Holy See deplores this act of terrorism in the firmest manner and demands that the worthy pastor is swiftly freed unharmed to continue to carry out his ministry," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls had said.

The prelate heads the 35,000-strong Syrian Catholic church in Mosul. All of Iraq's Christian denominations - Assyrian, Syrian, Armenian and Greek - have wings which recognise the supremacy of the Holy See.

 

Pope John Paul II, who named Casmusa archbishop in 1999, late last year condemned attacks on Catholic churches in Mosul, including an attack on the home of the leader of the Chaldean community - the Catholic breakaway from the Assyrian Church.