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New Delhi: Indian Vice President Venkiah Naidu on December 12 commended Christians for their service to those on the periphery and share in building a new India.

“The Catholic community is peace-loving and it contributes immensely to nation building,” the vice president told a gathering that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) organized to launch Christmas celebrations in the national capital.

“I have been attending Christmas functions at different parts of India as part of my political and social activities. This is the first occasion as the vice president of India that I am participating in a Christmas celebration,” said Naidu, who assumed the second highest office in the country on August 11, this year.

The vice president asserted that Jesus’s message for love and peace is for all seasons, cultures and nationalities. “People all over the world irrespective caste, creed or nationality celebrate Christmas with great joy and gaiety,” the vice president, the chief guest of the program, told the gathering comprising religious, political and social leaders as well as diplomats and media persons.

Christian community, especially Catholics, work for people’s welfare. “They maintain best educational institutions in the country that create awareness about the need for education and education for the needy.”

Christians have opened thousands of dispensaries and hospitals in remote areas and collaborate with the central and state governments. “The Christian community as a whole is assiduously engaged in contributing their share in building a new India which is united and strong,” the vice president said and added that he has personally witnessed how Christian helped in social transformation through formal and non-formal education.

“Education is the most important tool for social transformation. It helps impart values compassion, morality and ethics,” the vice president told the gathering held at the Community Hall of the Sacred Heart Cathedral Church that sits between two top Catholic schools in New Delhi – Columba’s and the Convent of Jesus and Mary.

The 68-year-old national leader urged Christians to continue their service with an added focus on the marginalized sections of society.

Christmas, the festival of love and joy caring and sharing, is time to renew commitment to serve family, community and society, work for social and economic inclusion of all, and promote lasting peace, he added.

Unveiling of Christmas painting

The Christmas message of peace is relevant in these days when people misuse religion. “If you have tension, there cannot be any progress,” the vice president said. He also asserted that no religion preaches hatred or violence

“Religion has nothing to do with terror. Terror is the enemy of humanity,” he said.

The vice president also urged the gathering to distinguish between religion and culture. Religion, he explained, is worship and personal whereas culture is a way of life where people love, share and take care of each other. Explaining further he said, “Suppose you have a chapatti. If you eat the chapatti, it is prakriti (nature), if you snatch a chapatti from another it is vikriti (deviation) and if you share your share with another it is sanskriti (culture).”

He wants every individual to respect, preserve and protect our culture and use the Christmas season to correct “our deviations if any” and spread the message of love through action.

He wants the government, enlightened people, communities and their leaders to help the suppressed and the oppressed come up in life to realize Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of “antiodaya” (rise of the last person).

CBCI president Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, while felicitating the vice president, reiterated the Catholic community’s commitment to the welfare of the country and its people.

“We offer our best wishes, prayerful support, deep commitment even through martyrdom to take the nation to its height of glory,” said the cardinal who hailed the vice president as “a close friend” of every community in the country.

The 58-year-old cardinal, who also heads the Syro-Malankara Church, said the Christian community is in India to give its service to the poorest of the poor.

“The Church India is at the service of the nation. People in the periphery need the Lord’s assurance,” he added.

He urged the government to take necessary steps to bring peace and progress to every citizen going beyond manmade boundaries. The head of the Indian Catholics reminds his countrymen that it is up to them to assure the world that diversity is not an obstacle, but the beauty of divine life.”

The cardinal also used the occasion to request the vice president to press the government to declare the recent Ockhi cyclone as a national disaster. The cardinal, who comes from Thiruvananthapuram, one of the worst affected by the November 30 cyclone, noted thousands of fishermen in southern coastal region have lost everything “except their faith in God.”

He stressed the need for satisfying, stable and long term plan to rehabilitate the affected families.

The cardinal later told Matters India that the vice president promised to take up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The prelate said he has visited the affected areas twice and that the Church plans various ways to help the families.

Source: Matters India (13 Dec. 2017)

13 Dec 2017 - 05:04

Where does the Trinitarian gaze fall on this Christmas 2017? Where does the incarnation take place? In the sinking boats of the Rohingya community, disowned by Myanmar, chased away by India and welcomed by a fragile country like Bangladesh? In the unending warzones of Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq? In the blood of martyrs like Pansare, Kalburgi, Dabholkar, Gauri? On the unknown faces of those lynched by the cowvigilantes? Indeed the Trinity chose to reach our intimate and vulnerable depths, in the fragility of a helpless Babe. Incarnation takes place in the intimacy and vulnerability of the earthy human depths. Incarnation invites us to become human, as God did, and it is a never-ending process. It began 13.5 billion years ago in the birth pangs of the Big Bang of love. Ever since then, it has been evolving, becoming human. Inhuman inversions slow it down to the freezing point. Yet the evolving energy of ‘fi at’ continues to advance it and makes it present everywhere. So much so, St. John of the Cross had the audacity to say, “All things are God.” (Laudato si: 234) In this universe none is superfl uous. The entire material uni¬verse speaks of God’s love, his boundless affec¬tion for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God (Laudato si: 84). We are invited to a global and universal solidarity as everything and everyone is interrelated and inter-dependent. Incarnation is an act of weaving together a new kind of solidarity, where everyone is included; none excluded. “As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning… Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the fi rm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.” (Earth Charter, The Hague, 29 June, 2000) That is Christmas: birthing hope in the midst of despair; birthing love in the face of divisive ideology; incarnating inclusion wherever there is exclusion.

Fr. George Pattery SJ

Provincial of South Asia (POSA)

9 Dec 2017 - 07:23

I am happy to share with you some of my pleasant experiences at the Colloquium for the new Provincials, held from 5 to 18 November 2017, at the Jesuit Curia, Rome. There were 11 new Provincials in our batch. The entire Colloquium was meticulously planned and coordinated by Fr Jose Cecilio Magadia, the Delegate for Formation. Fr Arturo Sosa, our General, accompanied us throughout this two-week-long spiritual journey. He was with us like one among us, as our dear friend and our brother, caring for us, listening to us and encouraging us. His spiritual and intellectual depth, his simplicity, cordiality, his warmth of love, his endearing laughter and his rich sense of humour have left a deep, positive impact on all of us. On the first day, in his inaugural address, Fr General, with his characteristic smile, warmly welcomed us with a gentle reminder saying that provincials are the delegates of the General. “They have been called to carry out, in their respective provinces, the mission of the General which is the mission of the Society and, therefore, they have co-responsibility with me in the mission of the Society and in the mission of the Church.” When asked, “Fr General, you are very cool and joyful. Being the General of such a great Religious Order, don’t you feel that you are carrying a heavy burden on your shoulder especially in the light of decisions of GC 36 and their implications?,” he responded, “I am not alone in my mission; we are journeying together.” A deep sense of collectivity was the focal theme clearly running through his interventions, sharing, homily etc. And the guiding principle of our collective journey is magis, which Message from the Provincial according to Fr General does not mean ‘more’ but ‘better’. Fr. General further drove home to us that this collective journey is undertaken by us to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ, that does not belong to us exclusively, but something we share with so many men and women, consecrated to the service of others. His remarks constantly reminded us of the call of the GC 36 for collaboration and networking. He also invited us to look beyond to understand that it was high time that we began to look at ourselves as collaborators in the mission of the Jesus Christ. Interestingly, on the sidelines of the Colloquium, some of us had shared among ourselves our strong desire to have an audience with the Holy Father Pope Francis but wondered if it would come true. Given the hectic schedule of the Holy Father and in the context of numerous requests pouring in for an audience with him and for his blessings, we concluded that it was practically impossible. It was at that time that we came to know that one of the participants of the Colloquium, Fr Renzo SJ, the new Provincial of Japan, was a close friend of the Pope, as Fr Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, (the present Pope) had been his provincial. Thanks to his efforts on 13 Nov 2017, the band of new Provincials accompanied by Fr Arturo Sosa, our General, not only had the privilege of an audience with the Holy Father but also concelebrated the Eucharist with him at his residence of Santa Marta in the Vatican. For us, the new Provincials, it was a dream-come-true experience. I will ever cherish the memory of the blessings of Pope Francis and my exchange of pleasantries with him, with my hands experiencing the tight grip of his hands – an experience of spiritual re-energizing. In his homily on the day’s gospel, the Pope reminded the congregation of the dangers of scandalizing others. “So, be careful not to scandalize. Scandal is evil, because scandal wounds - it wounds God’s People where they are most vulnerable, The Provincial and the members of the Curia wish all the readers of the MNL a joyful Christmas and a grace-filled 2018! May the Christ Child and His Virgin Mother bless you and all your dear ones! and strikes the People of God where they are weakest - and many times, the wounds inflicted by scandal are borne by the faithful throughout their lives. Not only does it do harm: scandal is capable of murder - of killing hopes, killing dreams, killing families, killing so many hearts.” The entire group of new Provincials retuned to the Roman curia with a deep sense of pride that our brother Pope Francis is an acclaimed world leader, shepherding the Catholic Church effectively. The entire Colloquium was also a great moment for us to understand, in a broader context of the diversity of the Jesuit Mission, the importance of setting in motion the process of discernment in common in the province adopting an effective methodology of spiritual conversation leading us to discernment of universal apostolic preferences and apostolic planning. The whole Society is now fully engaged in the exercise of apostolic planning in the aftermath of GC 36. The Jesuit Curia also has produced an outstanding document titled, Apostolic Planning for the General Curia of the Society of Jesus – January 2017 – December 2020’ thus giving us a lead and setting an example for the whole Society in the area of apostolic planning.


Danis Ponniah SJ, SJ

Provincial of Madurai Jesuit Province.

(Source: MNL Dec. 2017)

9 Dec 2017 - 06:51


Twelve new Jesuit provincials from around the world recently gathered at the General Curia for a colloquium for new provincials. On Monday, November 13, the provincials concelebrated the Eucharist with the Pope Francis at his residence of Santa Marta in the Vatican. In his homily on the day's gospel, the Pope reminded the congregation of the dangers of scandalizing others. "So, be careful not to scandalize. Scandal is evil, because scandal wounds - it wounds God's People where they are most vulnerable, and strikes the People of God where they are weakest - and many times, the wounds inflicted by scandal are borne by the faithful throughout their lives. Not only does it do harm: scandal is capable of murder - of killing hopes, killing dreams, killing families, killing so many hearts."

Source: sjweb.ifo news

6 Dec 2017 - 14:51


In the late eighties, while doing doctoral studies at the Gregorian (Rome), one day to my surprise I met Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach on the road leading to Bellarmino. He was literally watching the sky through the narrow space of the tall buildings. When I expressed my surprise, he said: “it is good to look at the sky even through the narrows spaces, whenever possible”. That was Kolvenbach; he seemed to place himself in limited space and routine schedule, but through them he tried to look at the vast expanse of the sky! A sort of monasticism of the heart in action! Later when we walked into the dining hall at Bellarmino, he was invited to the head table; he whispered: “I don’t like it; but I will go”. That was Kolvenbach; he seemed to dislike many things; but he liked to do things that were not to his taste; he obliged with a large heart.


At another occasion, I was taking my turn for the ‘manifestation’ during the provincials’ meet in Goa. I was surprised to see him waiting for me outside the room. I said: I am delighted to see that General of the Society waiting to receive me! He said: ‘that is the least I can do for you.’ He had the knack to be present to us when we met him, without betraying any personal inconvenience to him. Rarely he went out of the script; when he did, it was often cryptically witty.

In Kolvenabch I found an embodiment of classical tradition and wisdom. Classical in the best sense of the word: articulate and thorough; tradition in the sense of accumulated practices of the many ages; wisdom that is born out of regularity and routine.   In him I found a consolidating figure for the Society that was needed to be consolidated. That he did in his style.

George Pattery, SJ

6 Dec 2017 - 07:33

Remembering Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ

Father General Arturo Sosa has named the library of the Society at the General Curia in Rome, the "Peter-Hans Kolvenbach Library". This becomes the first Jesuit institution named after the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Father Kolvenbach (1928-2016) was an avid user of the library throughout his stay at the General Curia. The new library was inaugurated on 24 November 2017 after a Mass of remembrance presided over by Father General Sosa.

The General Curia has also created a website dedicated to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach. The website presents the life of Fr Kolvenbach, testimonials about him, and images from different moments of his generalate. Additionally, the website also presents selected writings of Fr Kolvenbach on the themes of religious life, Ignatian spirituality, and Ignatian Pedagogy. The website can accessed at the address

5 Dec 2017 - 14:42


Pope Francis waving farewell to Bangladesh at Dhaka airport after his Nov. 30-Dec. 3 visit. - EPA

Pope Francis waving farewell to Bangladesh at Dhaka airport after his Nov. 30-Dec. 3 visit. - EPA

Pope Francis flew back to Rome from Dhaka airport Saturday afternoon, concluding his 21st foreign visit outside of Italy that took him to Myanmar and Bangladesh. 

The Pope was given an official farewell at Dhaka airport, where the Minister for Foreign Affairs was present to see him take off on a Bangladesh Airlines aircraft on his flight back to Rome. 

‎The Pope was in Myanmar, Nov. 27-30, after which he visited neighbouring Bangladesh, Nov. 30-Dec 2.  ‎While Myanmar’s over 51 million population is nearly 90 percent Buddhist, where Catholics form only 1.2%, in neighbouring Bangladesh Muslims account for nearly 90% of the population, and Catholics less than 1 percent. 

The purpose of this 2-nation apostolic visit was not only to confirm the faith of the tiny Catholic communities in the two Asian nations but also to carry Christ’s message of reconciliation, forgiveness, peace and harmony among the people for the common good.  And that is what the logos and themes of the two visits indicated.  The theme of the Pope’s Myanmar visit was “Love and Peace”, and that the Bangladesh, “Harmony and Peace.” The Pope also encouraged ecumenical and interfaith cooperation in order to be a ‎prophetic and healing presence in the life of the nation.‎

In both the nations, the Catholic communities are active, especially in their outreach programmes for the poor and needy, which the Pope commended and encouraged.  Overall the Pope delivered 8 discourses and three homilies, celebrating two Masses in Myanmar and another Mass in Bangladesh with priestly ordination.


During his visit to Myanmar, the pope met popular leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as the president and the top military general, in the backdrop of an international outcry against the atrocities on the Rohingya Muslims of Rakhine state who are fleeing to Bangladesh.  The Holy Father however respected the government’s request not to use the word Rohingya, who are denied citizenship. 

Meeting Myanmar’s state authorities, leaders of civil society and the diplomatic corps in Nay Pyi Taw, he encouraged the nation on the “arduous process of peacebuilding and national reconciliation” saying it can be achieved on only through a “commitment to justice and respect for human rights,” a process in which religious leaders have a crucial role to play. 

In Yangon, the Pope met Buddhist leaders and local bishops, but above all he went to meet ordinary Catholics, who travelled from all over the country to attend an open-air Mass.

In an unscheduled encounter with leaders of Myanmar’s various religious communities, Pope Francis urged them to work together to rebuild the country through unity amidst the nation’s diversity, and not through uniformity. 

Meeting the bishops of Myanmar he encouraged them in the task of healing, accompaniment and prophecy among a flock that bears the scars of conflict.

In meeting the powerful Supreme Council of Buddhist monks, Pope Francis urged them on the path of compassion and love towards all to heal the wounds caused by conflicts, poverty and oppression.

Celebrating Mass for young people in Yangon, the last event in Myanmar, the Pope urged them to carry the good news of Jesus to their suffering brothers and sisters in need of not only their prayers and solidarity but their enthusiasm for human rights, justice, and love and peace.


After his arrival in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Nov. 30, Pope Francis met the nation’s authorities, the diplomatic corps and civil society, and expressed appreciation for Bangladesh’s generosity and solidarity for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar.  He called on the international community to find a solution to the Rohingya crisis and help Bangladesh to meet the emergency.  He also stressed that the name of God be never invoked to justify hatred and violence on others.

During an open-air Mass on Friday, the only papal Mass in this trip, the Pope ordained 17 new priests and reminded them of their call to serve Christ the teacher, priest, and shepherd and help build the people of God, the Church.


But the highlight of the entire Myanmar-Bangladesh visit came Friday evening in a deeply moving encounter with 16 Rohingya refugees from Myanmarwho have sought shelter in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.  Grasping the hands of each of the 12 men, 2 women and 2 young girls, at the end of an interfaith and ecumenical meeting in the capital, the Pope intently listened to their stories of horror, suffering and pain.  “The presence of God today is also called `Rohingya,''' the Pope said, asking their forgiveness for all the hurt and indifference they have endured, and demanded their rights be recognized.

On Saturday, the last day of his three-day visit to Bangladesh, the Pope visited a home for orphans, unwed mothers and destitute elderly run by the nuns of Mother Teresa.   In off-hand remarks to the nuns and priests there he praised Bangladesh for having what he called some of the best inter-religious relations in the world.  The Holy Father later met priests, religious and seminarians.

His last meeting of the entire trip was with young Bangladeshis, among whom were also Muslims and followers of other religions. Speaking to them at the Notre Dame College of Dhaka, he urged the young people to reject the false promises of happiness and go out of their self-centeredness to foster an environment of harmony, reaching out to others.  Commending Bangladesh’s respect for the elderly, the Pope urged them to talk to their parents and grandparents, without playing with their phones the whole day, ignoring everything around them.  

    3 Dec 2017 - 06:06

    Pope Francis urged Bangladeshi priests and nuns to resist the "terrorism of gossip" that can tear religious communities apart, delivering one of his trademark, zinger-filled spontaneous speeches to the country's Roman Catholic leadership on Saturday at the close of an otherwise tense and diplomatically fraught Asian tour.

    As he has done in similar encounters, Francis told the priests and nuns gathered in Dhaka's Holy Rosary Church that he was ditching the eight-page speech that he had prepared and would instead speak to them from his heart.

    "I don't know if it will be better or worse, but I promise it will be less boring," he quipped.

    And then for the next 15 minutes, Francis had the crowd in stitches, mixing paternal advice on how to tend to religious vocations ("with tenderness") with gentle warnings about the havoc that gossip "bombs" can wreak when lobbed in closed religious life.

    "How many religious communities have been destroyed because of a spirit of gossip?" said Francis, adding that he was speaking from personal experience. "Please, bite your tongue."

    History's first Jesuit pope has frequently lamented the damage gossip can do within the church, where vows of obedience, strict hierarchies and closed communities can breed jealousies and resentment.

    It's a message Francis has brought to ordinary parishes riven by divisions and to the top of the Catholic Church leadership. His most famous iteration came in his 2014 Christmas greetings to the Vatican bureaucracy, when he listed the "terrorism of gossip" as one of the 15 maladies his closest collaborators were suffering (alongside "spiritual Alzheimer's" and a "pathology of power.")

    The Bangladeshi version was far more jovial in tone, and many in the pews nodded along as Francis made one zinger after another to make his point. It was a humor-filled end to a tense diplomatic trip that saw Francis maintain public silence over the Rohingya refugee crisis while in Myanmar, only to address it head-on in Bangladeshwith an emotional encounter with refugees themselves.

    "The presence of God today is also called 'Rohingya,'" he told a group of 16 refugees who traveled to Dhaka from Cox's Bazar, the district bordering Myanmar where refugee camps are overflowing with more than 620,000 Rohingya who have fled what the United Nations says is a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Myanmar's military.

    Francis' final event in Bangladesh was a youth rally before boarding the plane for the flight home to Rome and his traditional airborne news conference.

    Curtesy: Los Angels Times

    3 Dec 2017 - 05:37

    Pope Francis has thanked Bangladesh for its humanitarian response to Muslim refugees fleeing Myanmar, but again avoided using the term Rohingya. The Pope had been criticised by rights groups for not using the term when he visited Myanmar, which does not recognise Rohingya as an ethnic group. He was speaking in Dhaka, where on Friday he will meet Rohingya refugees. He faces other issues in Bangladesh, including attacks on Christians and other minorities by radical Islamists. There are even fewer Catholics in Bangladesh than there are in Myanmar. They make up about 0.2% of the population, about 350,000 people, compared with about 600,000 in Myanmar.
    But the community has been targeted by Muslim extremists. Just days before Francis's arrival, a priest disappeared from the same village that saw a Catholic hacked to death last year. The priest, Walter William Rosario, had been organising a trip to the Pope's Mass in the capital, Dhaka, which takes place on Friday. In his speech, the Pope said: "Bangladeshi society has been seen most vividly in its humanitarian outreach to a massive influx of refugees from Rakhine State, providing them with temporary shelter and the basic necessities of life. This has been done at no little sacrifice. "None of us can fail to be aware of the gravity of the situation, the immense toll of human suffering involved, and the precarious living conditions of so many of our brothers and sisters, a majority of whom are women and children, crowded in the refugee camps."
    The Pope had in the past used the term "Rohingya brothers and sisters".
    Francis also referred to the "indignation" caused by terrorist attacks in Bangladesh. He said: "The most holy name of God can never be invoked to justify hatred and violence against our fellow human beings." The Vatican has defended Francis's avoidance of the word Rohingya while in Myanmar. He had been warned by his Catholic representatives in the country not to use the term for fear of alienating the Buddhist majority.
    Myanmar's government rejects the term Rohingya. It labels the community "Bengalis" and says they migrated illegally from Bangladesh.
    More than 620,000 Rohingya have fled across the border since August amid a crackdown which Myanmar's government says was aimed at rooting out violent insurgents following deadly attacks on police posts by Rohingya militants. The UN has described the crackdown in the state of Rakhine as "textbook ethnic cleansing". A Vatican spokesman said that although its diplomacy was "not infallible", the Pope had lost no "moral authority" in his approach, which was intended to "build bridges" in Myanmar. The spokesman, Greg Burke, said: "The fact that the Pope is here and draws attention to the country itself is an incredibly positive thing." On Friday, the Pope will hold talks with Bangladesh's PM Sheikh Hasina.

    Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses and closeup

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    Source: BBC News

    30 Nov 2017 - 15:31

    WorldAFPNov, 29 2017 10:57:13 IST

    Dhaka: A Catholic priest has disappeared in Bangladesh, police said Wednesday, a day before Pope Francis starts a landmark visit to the Muslim-majority nation wracked by Islamist extremism.

    Walter William Rosario, 40, is from the same village in northern Bangladesh where suspected Islamist extremists in 2016 hacked a Catholic grocer to death as he opened his shop.

    A major search has been launched for Rosario, who is also headmaster of a Catholic school in Natore district, after his family reported him missing, police said.

    "He has been missing since late Monday. His mobile has been switched off," local police chief Biplob Bijoy Talukder told AFP.

    Gerves Rosario, the bishop of the nearby city of Rajshahi, said he believed the priest had been kidnapped and that Catholics in the region were deeply worried.

    "He was organising for around 300 Catholics to travel to Dhaka to see the Pope and attend his holy Mass. But his disappearance has marred their joy. They don't want to go to Dhaka anymore," said the bishop.

    The family received a phone call from someone using Rosario's number to demand a ransom, but Talukder said police believed this was a hoax.

    Representational image. AFP

    Representational image. AFP

    They have not ruled out the possibility he was abducted by Islamist extremists, who have carried out attacks on religious minorities in the region in the past four years.

    Pope Francis arrives in Bangladesh Thursday on the first visit to the country by the head of the Catholic Church in 31 years.

    The trip will be dominated by the plight of more than 6,20,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled ethnic unrest in Myanmar and taken refuge in Bangladesh.

    Christians, who make up less than 0.5 percent of Bangladesh's 160 million people, have in recent years faced attacks by Islamist radicals.

    Since 2015 at least three Christians, including two converts from Islam, have been hacked to death in attacks blamed on the militant Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

    In July last year militants from the same group stormed a Dhaka cafe and massacred 22 hostages including 18 foreigners in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

    However, the government has denied the international militants' involvement and security forces have killed more than 70 alleged militants since the cafe attack.

    30 Nov 2017 - 08:52