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Third minister shot dead in Philippines in six months

South East Asia

Third minister shot dead in Philippines in six months

Priests carry the coffin of Fr. Richmond Nilo during a funeral procession towards the crypt of the St. Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral in Cabanatuan City, June 15, 2018. Photo credit: Catholic Bishops Conference of Phillipines/Screen grab from TV MARIA

Gunmen shot dead a minister in a Philippines church as he prepared for a Sunday evening service.

The two attackers fired through a window of the church in Zaragoza town, Nueva Ecija province, on 10 June, before fleeing on a motorbike.

Minister Richmond Nilo, 44, was wounded in the head and body and died of his injuries. He is the third minister targeted by unknown gunmen in similar attacks in the last six months.

Minister Mark Ventura, 37, was shot dead as he talked to worshippers after a service in Gattaran, Cagayan province, on 29 April.

On 4 December 2017, minister Marcelito Paez, a 72-year-old campaigner on human rights, was driving his van in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, when a gunman on a motorbike blocked his path and opened fire.

A spokesman for President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte said: “We will really give priority to the investigation … if you kill a priest, you violate not just his right to life, you also violate his right to worship freely.”

The Philippines is a diverse country with a primarily Christian population, although there is an ongoing conflict between the government and Islamist armed groups seeking independence in the south of the country.