Oblate priest in Sri Lanka not heard from since May 14

This photograph released by the Sri Lankan military May 15 shows what the army says are civilians fleeing from the area inside a no-fire zone held by Tamil separatists. (CNS photo/Sri Lankan Government, Reuters)

This photograph released by the Sri Lankan military May 15 shows what the army says are civilians fleeing from the area inside a no-fire zone held by Tamil separatists. (CNS photo/Sri Lankan Government, Reuters)

The U.S. director of the Missonary Oblates’ justice, peace and integrity of creation program is concerned about the safety of one of the order’s priests in the war zone of northern Sri Lanka.

Washington-based Father Seamus Finn told Catholic News Service May 18 that Father Saviripillai Edmund Reginald has not been heard from since May 14. Father Reginald was the subject of a May 13 CNS report on the civilian victims in the war between Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Sri Lankan officials have declared victory in wiping out the last remnants of the rebel forces, which have fought a 25-year war for independence and human rights.

Father Finn said a representative of the order in Rome was trying to make his way from the capital of Colombo northward. But his status also is unknown. Cell phone access is limited in the northern part of the island nation off the southeast coast of India.

The BBC has reported that civilians are being allowed to leave the war zone, but only after being screened carefully to make sure none of the rebels escape.

Father Finn said the order has provided names of its missionaries in the war zone to the U.S. State Department in an effort to learn the whereabouts of all of its members.

Meanwhile, as the fighting ends, the European Union has called for an independent investigation into some of the tactics used by the Sri Lanka armed forces.

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