It has emerged that the 31-year-old Irish missionary, shot dead yesterday in Uganda, was assaulted less than a fortnight before he was killed. Fr Declan O'Toole was assaulted by a junior Ugandan Army officer.

Despite receiving apologies from the military, he had the matter was raised with the Prime Minister by the Irish ambassador. Fr O'Toole's Ugandan cook and driver were also killed in yesterday's ambush.

Fr O'Toole was a Millhill father who had been based in the remote Karamoja region of Northern Uganda for the past five years. He had been trying to broker peace between several tribes in the area while also monitoring an army drive to disarm the nomadic tribespeople.

At 6pm Irish time yesterday, while travelling 100 kilometres north of the town of Kotido with his Ugandan driver and cook, his vehicle was attacked and all three occupants were killed.

Occupants of a car some distance have reported seeing one assailant dressed in an army flak jacket and a native kilt, which is standard dress for local bandits.

Fr O'Toole, who was a native of Headford in County Galway, is survived by two sisters, his brother and his parents. He was ordained by the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, in June 1997.

This evening, Irish Ambassador to Uganda, Maitin O Fainnin said the government had assured him that the military was not involved in the killings. Mr O Fainin is flying to the north to attempt to bring the priest's remains back to the capital.