Italian priest kidnapped in Philippines

An Italian priest has been kidnapped while celebrating mass in a church in the southern Philippines.

Police said unidentified gunmen seized Father Guiseppi Piarantoni in the coastal town of Dimataling in the province of Zamboanag del Sur and fled with him in a motorboat.

The kidnapping comes as government troops are pursuing militants of the Muslim Abu Sayyaf separatist group, which is holding 12 hostages, including an American missionary couple, on the nearby island of Basilan.

Both Abu Sayaff and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are known to operate in the province.