NEWS ALERT: Kenya Missionary Priest Murdered on Christmas Day, Report

Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA) reported late Tuesday, December 27.

CISA said 46-year old priest Philip Valayam of the Roman Catholic Salesian order, who also worked as professor at Tangaza College of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, was attacked while driving home after celebrating a mid-night mass.

He was shot in the early hours of Sunday, December 25, ironically near the post of a security firm, CISA noted.

"The thugs had no time to take anything from the car as personnel from the security post raised alarm and police arrived soon after," Priest Alex Matua of the Don Bosco Eastern Africa Multimedia Services told CISA Tuesday, December 27. It was unclear if any arrests were made and police officials could not immediately be reached for comments.

DEAD ON ARRIVAL

Police reportedly rushed Valayam to hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival. A student who accompanied him in the car was not hurt, news reports said.

Salesian priests and other Christians and religious representatives gathered for "a solemn Eucharist Celebration" at the spot where the priest was shot, CISA added.

Arrangements were reportedly being made to transport his body to India.

Philip Valayam was born March 23, 1959, and ordained priest on December 29, 1988 in India, CISA said. He came to Eastern Africa in 1997 and before working in Kenya served at the Salesian Seminary in Moshi, Tanzania, as professor of philosophy.

SEVERAL INSTITUTES

After a break for studies in Rome in 2001, he returned to the region and was assigned to Don Bosco Youth Educational Services and appointed Academic Advisor to the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and other institutes.

"Until his fateful death he was ministering to various religious congregations and youth groups in various secondary and tertiary levels," CISA said.

Catholic officials said his death was a reminder of the insecurity in Kenya and other regions where missionaries work. Priest Valayam joins a " long list of Church clergy who have been killed in Kenya since the murder of Father John Kaiser of the Mill Hill Missionaries," said the Don Bosco Eastern Africa Multimedia Services (BEAMS) in a statement quoted CISA.

Kaiser had been investigating allegations of murder, rape and corruption at the heart of the Kenyan government before he died in 2000. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from Kenya).

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