Gunmen kidnap former Italian priest in southern Philippines

(UCAN) Gunmen have abducted a former priest in the southern Philippines region of Mindanao, authorities say.

Rolando Del Torchio, a former member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was seized on Oct. 7 at his pizzeria in Dipolog City, in Zamboanga del Norte province.

Police said the gunmen entered Del Torchio’s pizzeria, inside the campus of Andres Bonifacio College, in the evening.

Witnesses said the former Catholic priest was “dragged like a dog” toward a waiting vehicle that sped off toward the coast.

“We were all scared and we just dropped to the floor,” said a waitress at the pizzeria.

City council member Kenny Ong called for “calm and unity” among residents.

“Let’s work together to bring [Del Torchio] back from his captors,” Ong said.

Authorities say no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

“It’s hard to assume [who the suspects are],” said a military official who asked not to be named. “So far, we still don’t have any suspects,” he said.

“The victim had been targeted for kidnap by ransom groups several times when he was still an active priest,” the official said. [More]