A priest at a pilgrim centre in Kerala’s Ernakulam district died on Thursday after he was allegedly stabbed by a former church official, PTI reported. Police said they were looking for the attacker.

Father Xavier Thelakkat, 52, was climbing Kurisumudy hill in Malayattoor on Thursday afternoon when Johnny, a former sexton, allegedly attacked him with a sharp weapon. The priest had fired Johnny three months ago, which led to an argument between the two on Thursday, police said.

Thelakkat was the rector of the Kurisumudy pilgrim centre for seven years, according to Manorama Online.

The priest was injured in his leg and died while being taken to hospital in Angamaly, police said. Johnny is believed to be hiding in a forest near Malayattoor.

A Syro-Malabar Church spokesman said the “unfortunate incident” occurred at a time when Thelakkat was looking after preparations for the Kurisumudy pilgrimage later in March.