Irish priest, 70, shot by armed gang after being followed home in South America
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Irish priest, 70, shot by armed gang after being followed home in South America

AN ELDERLY Irish priest has been hospitalised after he was shot by an armed gang outside his home in Lima, Peru.

Fr Gerry Desmond, 70, was shot in both feet at around 10am on Saturday after walking home from a cash machine in the Peruvian capital.

According to local reports, the attack was perpetrated by three armed men in the slum district of San Juan de Lurigancho.

In a statement, the Peruvian Diocese of Chosica said: "This morning, Father Gerardo Desmond, Pastor of Christ Liberator, of San Juan de Lurigancho, was assaulted by three armed men.

"After following him to the door of his house, the men surrounded him, beat him in the head and shot him in the feet to steal everything that he had.

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“Fr Gerardo is out of danger but on the orders of his St Columban’s superior, will be transferred to the Cayetano Heredia clinic. We pray to Our Lord for the swift physical and emotional recovery of our beloved Fr Desmond.”

It's understood that Fr Desmond's injuries were not life-threatening and he has since been discharged from hospital.

The Irishman - also known as Padre Gerardo - has provided pastoral aid to some of Peru's poorest communities for over a decade. He had previously worked in Manitoba, Canada.

In 2011, he opened a primary school in the San Juan de Lurigancho slum, as well as a community centre for youths and adults.

The 70-year-old has also campaigned for better facilities in local chapels - including pews, windows, music equipment and PA systems.