A still unidentfied assailant shot dead the Italian parish priest of Arakan, North Cotabato, outside the town’s church Monday morning, police said.

Father Fausto Tentorio, of the Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), suffered bullet wounds to the body and was brought to the Antipas Medical Specialist hospital, but was declared dead by doctors, provincial police director Senior Supt. Cornelio Salinas said.

The incident occurred around 8:25 a.m. outside the Catholic church in Brgy. Poblacion.

“(Tentorio) was about to ride his service vehicle when the suspect suddenly appeared and without any provocation shot him on the body,” Salinas said in a text message, citing initial investigation results.

Local police are tracking down the suspect, who is said to have fled on a motorcycle, as of this writing.

Investigators, meanwhile, found three empty shells of a caliber-.9mm pistol at the crime scene. (John Roson)

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