Homs, Syria, April 7, 2014
Dutch priest Frans van der Lugt was shot and killed outside of his home in Homs, Syria, on Monday. Van der Lugt, 75, famously refused to leave Homs when the Syrian government siege of the rebel-friendly city began two years ago. He had said that he would not leave the city while Christians still lived there.
Jan Stuyt, secretary of the Dutch Jesuit Order, confirmed his death to the AFP: "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. In other words, it seems likely that van der Lugt was directly targeted. The Syrian government has blamed "terrorists" for the priest's death, while various opposition groups working in the city have blamed the government.
Van der Lugt was a Jesuit, as is Pope Francis. In a statement, the Vatican addressed the priest's death:
"[van der Lugt was] a man of peace, who with great courage, had wanted to remain faithful, in an extremely risky and difficult situation, to the Syrian people to whom he had dedicated, for a long time, his life and spiritual service."
Van der Lugt moved to Syria in 1966, and lived in a Jesuit monastery in the city. He repeatedly refused opportunities to evacuate the city, even as recently as this February.