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Columban priest murdered in Philippines

An Irish Columban missionary in the Philippines was shot dead by three gunmen during a foiled kidnap attempt.

Fr Rufus Halley, 57, was killed after being dragged from his motorcycle on his way home from attending a religious meeting.

The Irish Times reports he had recently told friends he felt his life was in danger.

The attack happened near the town of Malabang, in Lanao del Sur Province on Mindanao, the Philippines' second-largest island. Father Halley had been living in Malabang for 20 years and was parish priest of the local Our Lady of Peace Church. He was returning by motorcycle to the local convent in Malabang after chairing an interdenominational religious meeting a nearby town at 5:00 pm local time when he was flagged down by gunmen on a dirt road.

A senior police officer told the paper: "It appears the gang tried to kidnap the priest, but he refused to go with them and was shot. He died immediately." He told friends in County Waterford on a recent visit home to Ireland of threats and intimidation arising from his efforts to negotiate between pro- and anti-government factions in the volatile area where he lived. "He knew he was in trouble. He told me he was in serious difficulties," said Mr Billy Walsh, one of his closest friends.

Missionary Society of St Columban (Philippines)
Columban Voices (Ireland)

Irish Times