The government of President Jose Napoleon Duarte today asked the Roman Catholic Church to help mediate the release of his daughter, who was kidnaped by gunmen believed to be rebels fighting a six-year civil war.
In Washington, White House officials said President Reagan conveyed “heartfelt concerns and prayers” for the safety of Duarte’s eldest daughter and offered U.S. help in bringing her abductors to justice.
Ines Guadalupe Duarte Duran, 35, was pulled by her hair from her vehicle by armed men Tuesday as she entered the University Nueva San Salvador, which she attended as a part-time student.
The kidnapers shot two bodyguards to death. One of them was killed instantly and the other died later in a military hospital.
Rebel Contacts Sought
Government sources said officials are seeking to establish contact with leaders of the Democratic Revolutionary Front, the political wing of the leftist guerrillas who have been fighting for six years to overthrow the U.S.-backed government.
In the past the Catholic Church has served as a mediator between Duarte’s government and the leftist rebels and last autumn helped organize two sets of peace talks to try to end the civil war.
The rebels are the prime suspects in the kidnaping, although no group has claimed responsibility and no ransom demands have been made. The government’s efforts to contact the political leadership is a solid indication that officials believe rebels to be responsible.
Church Meeting Today
“We have asked humanitarian organizations, including the church, to help us in whatever possibility that presents itself,” said Julio Adolfo Rey Prendes, minister of communication and culture.
An officer at the Defense Ministry confirmed that the government had asked the church to help contact the kidnapers of Ines Guadalupe, the oldest of Duarte’s six children.
Church leaders are meeting today, and church sources said the government request is being discussed.