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Published On: Sat, Apr 19th, 2014

Priest Francis Van Der Lugt assassinated in Syria, rebels and government blame each other

The Syrian government and rebel groups are blaming one another in the assassination of Dutch Jesuit Priest Francis Van Der Lugt in his garden in Homs. No group has taken responsibility for the April 7 killing, in which a masked gunman entered the monastery and shot the priest in the head.

Priest Francis Van Der Lugt

Priest Francis Van Der Lugt

Father Frans, 75, lived in Syria for 50 years and refused to leave during the sectarian violence to help both suffering Muslim and Christian civilians even as 1,500 people evacuated the area, The Catholic Register said. Frans was vocal about the hunger and starvation in war-torn Homs through social media.

“He was a ray of joy and hope to all those trapped in the Old City of Homs, waiting for yet another UN permission to evacuate,” Jesuit Priest Ziad Hillal told Aid to the Church in Need. According to World Watch Monitor, 60,000 Christians used to live in the Old City section of Homs.

“When I leave, nothing will be left of this building,” Van Der Lugt told Dutch radio in February. “And I don’t want to leave alone the 28 Christians that have remained.”

State media outlet SANA blamed “terrorists” for the Van Der Lugt’s killing, while Syria’s main opposition bloc called the killing a “criminal act” by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

“We hold the regime ultimately responsible for this crime as the only beneficiary of Father Francis’ death,” the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition said in a statement. The rebels said they were protecting the priest and that a guard from their Free Syrian Army was shot in the chest when Van Der Lugt was attacked, The New York Times reported.

Todd Daniels, International Christian Concern’s regional manager for the Middle East, said there has been an influx of foreign fighters into Syria who could have carried out the attack.

In response to the attack, Pope Francis asked everyone to pray for peace in Syria. “His brutal murder filled me with deep sadness and made me think again of all the people who suffer and are dying in that martyred country, already too long a victim of a bloody conflict that continues to sow death and destruction,” he said.

Photo is a screenshot from a video interview with Priest Francis Van Der Lugt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5huIL-MUWI

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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