Tuesday, 8 April 2014 - 13:03
UN Chief condemns killing of Dutch priest in Syria
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the killing in Syria of Dutch priest Father Frans van der Lugt. Father Frans (72) was reported on Monday to be shot dead by militants in the Syrian city of Homs. A statement from the UN said: "The killing of an elderly priest, Father Frans van der Lugt, in Homs is but the latest tragedy highlighting the urgent need to protect civilians. The Secretary-General condemns this inhumane act of violence against a man who heroically stood by the people of Syria amid sieges and growing difficulties." Ban Ki-moon urged the conflicting parties to ensure protection of all civilians in the country despite their religious or ethnic belonging. "In the face of troubling new reports of atrocities in the brutal conflict driving Syria to its destruction, the Secretary-General demands that warring parties and their supporters ensure that civilians are protected, regardless of their religion, community or ethnic affiliation," the statement said. Father Frans, had lived in the city of Homs for over 50 years, was kidnapped from his house by armed men and later shot in the head twice. This was first reported by AP and on Monday confirmed by Jan Stuyt, the secretary of the Dutch Order of the Jesuits. A Volkskrant report in February said that the The Hague born priest ran a school and helped mentally ill people in the city. And in an interview with NOS he said earlier that he would not leave the city. "If i leave this house there will be nothing left of it. That is a very important matter for me. And there are still many Christian people here; I do not want to abandon them," he said, adding, "And even if all Christians are gone, I will still stay, because I am here for Syria and all Syrians. I love this country." The UN statement spoke specifically of Syria's north-western town of Kasab, predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians, that was attacked on March 22 by Jebhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham militants, who had crossed the border from Turkey. According to unofficial sources, 80 people were killed. "The Secretary-General is also horrified by the gruesome images purporting executions in the Syrian town of Kasab," the statement said.