One resident said he was found murdered near the town.
“He was negotiating the release of a Christian doctor with the kidnappers, who demanded 50 million Syrian pounds ($660,000). He had managed to reduce their demand” by half, he told on condition of anonymity,
Theft and kidnapping have become rampant in Syria, where criminals have taken advantage of the security vacuum.
“Last Friday, he went along with the doctor’s stepfather to pay the ransom, but they were also abducted and the kidnappers had increased their demands before the priest’s body was found on Thursday,” the resident added.
The murder has sparked outrage in Qatana, where the priest was popular with Christians and Muslims alike for securing the release of a number of people, locals said.
The Orthodox Patriarchate condemned the “savage crime” and denounced “attacks against civilians and religious figures who try to be messengers of peace under these difficult circumstances.”
It further called on humanitarian organisations and the public to “condemn all crimes and robberies which undermine the safety of citizens.”
Catholicculture.org reports: “Father Fadi Jamil Haddad was seized by armed men, who demanded a ransom payment of €550,000 (over $700,000) from his family. When relatives were unable to produce that payment, the kidnappers—who remain unidentified—killed him. The priest’s body was found near the place where he had been seized, bearing evidence that he had been “horribly tortured,” Church officials reported.”