Dutch Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt chats with civilians, urging them to be patient, in the besieged area of Homs, January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Thaer Al Khalidiya
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Dutch priest Frans van der Lugt, who gained renown for his insistence on staying in Syria's besieged city of Homs, was shot dead there on Monday by a masked gunman.His death was reported by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syria's state news agency SANA, and was confirmed by the Dutch Jesuit Order.Van der Lugt, 75, had become a well-known figure in the Old City of Homs, respected by many for his solidarity with residents of the rebel-held area under a government siege for nearly two years.Van der Lugt spent nearly five decades in Syria, and told AFP in February that he considered the country to be his home.The siege and shelling whittled away the Old City's population, including a Christian community that shrunk from tens of thousands to just 66, according to the Dutch priest.Father Frans arrived in Syria in 1966 after spending two years in Lebanon studying Arabic.
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