Priest kidnapped in the Philippines


Gunmen have kidnapped an Irish priest from his house in the south of the Philippines, a police official said tonight.

Michael Sinnott (78), was taken at gunpoint by six men who stormed a Columban missionary house in Pagadian City on the southern island of Mindanao, Angelo Sunglao, police chief in the western Mindanao region, told reporters.

Supt Sunglao said Fr Sinnott was dragged into a van, which was later abandoned and burned by the suspects. Mr Sinnott was then taken away by sea aboard a motor boat.

"We've alerted all our units as well as the military to be on the lookout and intercept the gunmen," Sunglao said, adding they were trying to establish the motive for the abduction.

"We can't speculate yet on who is behind the kidnapping, but the Abu Sayyaf is known to be operating near the area."

The Abu Sayyaf, a small Islamic militant group, is notorious for kidnapping and bomb attacks.

Fr Sinnott, from Barntown in the south-east county of Wexford, has been in the Philippines since 1976. He has served in a variety of pastoral and administrative roles.