francis van der lugt
In this photo taken on March 28, 2014 and released by a neutral activist youth group, About our Neighborhood Hamidiyeh Simply, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Dutch Father Francis Van Der Lugt, 75, in Homs, Syria. (Tri-City Herald)

Dutch Jesuit priest Father Francis Van Der Lugt was executed by gunmen in Syria on Monday. The activist priest was shot twice in the back of the head.

The Tri-City Herald reported:

An activist Jesuit priest who spent three years living alongside besieged civilians and rebels in the Syrian city of Homs was assassinated Monday, according to the Vatican, which said he was abducted by unidentified gunmen who beat him before executing him in front of his monastery.

Father Francis Van Der Lugt, 75, a Dutch Jesuit priest, came to Syria in 1966 and eventually founded a home for children and adults with mental disabilities outside Homs, where he lived before the three-year-old civil war started. After fighting began, he relocated to the rebel-held neighborhood of Bustan al Diwan in Homs Old City, where he worked with refugees and civilians during the more than two-year-old siege by regime forces.

“I can confirm that he’s been killed,” Jan Stuyt, secretary of the Dutch Jesuit Order, told the news agency Agence France-Presse by phone.

“A man came into his house, took him outside and shot him twice in the head. In the street in front of his house,” he said, adding the priest would be buried in Syria “according to his wishes.”

His bodyguard, who’d been supplied by the mainstream rebel Free Syrian Army, was wounded in the attack. Because of Van Der Lugt’s high-profile role in condemning the Syrian regime for its blockade of Homs, some activists accused the regime of assassinating him. Islamic radicals with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria _ a rogue al Qaida group _ have been repeatedly accused of targeting clergy and churches and are also considered suspects, according to rebel officials.

 

 

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