Gunmen entered a protestant church in Surigao del Norte and shot dead a preacher in the middle of his sermon on Sunday.
Police identified the victim as Allan Ursabia, aged 45, who was shot by two men in front of his horrified congregation at about 9.30am in the Surigao del Norte town of San Francisco, which is about five miles south-west of Surigao city.
“The church was filled with churchgoers — about 80 to 100 — when the assailants entered the place of worship area and shot the pastor,” said Police officer Era Campillos, who is investigating the killing.
A female lookout was seen outside the Lord Jesus Christ Fellowship church in Barangay Jubgan, a coastal village of around 400 people, as the two men pumped bullets on the preacher, said Mr Campillos.
The assailants fled in an unknown direction on a red Bajaj 100 motorcycle, he added.
Ursabia was taken to Surigao Medical Center by fellow preachers but was declared dead on arrival.
Police said nine empty shells and two slugs belonging to a .45-calibre pistol were found at the crime scene.
Mr Campillos said they have been looking at several angles, including a possible personal grudge, as the motive of the crime.
Josephine, the victim’s wife, had told police that the killing might have something to do with the legal assistance her husband was providing to a jailed relative.
Police said the assailants appeared to be professional hired killers.
“We’re ruling out the possibility that it was perpetrated by communist rebels,” Mr Campillos said, noting that the town has been among the areas in the province with minimal rebel presence.
Investigations into the killing are continuing.
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