Philippine Police Launch Special Probe into Missionary’s Murder

Posted October 18th, 2011 at 7:10 am (UTC-5)
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Authorities in the Philippines have established a special police unit to investigate the shooting death of an Italian-born Catholic priest in the Pacific nation's violence-plagued south.

Father Fausto Tentorio was gunned down Monday inside the compound of his parish church on Mindanao island as he was entering his vehicle. Police say a man wearing a motorcycle helmet shot the 59-year-old priest eight times before escaping on motorcycle with another person.

The killing outraged human rights activists who demonstrated Tuesday outside the Justice Department in Manila.

One protester said he believes Tentorio was targeted for his support of tribal communities and impoverished residents against mining interests in the region.

Father Tentorio, a missionary with the Vatican-run Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission, had been in the Philippines for over three decades. He is the third member of the order killed on Mindanao since 1985.

Various armed groups operate in the region, including outlaw gangs, Maoist rebels and Muslim separatists who have been waging an insurgency for decades.