A gunman fatally shot a woman parishioner inside a Catholic church in the southwestern town of El Dovio, Colombian media said.

Nelly Perea Gonzalez, 67, was shot three times as she walked toward the confessional, according to the initial police report.

The victim owned a farm and was seen by her neighbors as a spiritual leader in the community, news accounts said.

Authorities are investigating the murder, El Dovio town clerk Bernardo Peñuela told Caracol Television.

The pastor of Our Lady of Carmen Catholic Church, the Rev. Jairo de Jesus Ospina, condemned the killing and called on "all the perpetrators of violence" to recognize that it "is not the way."

The church will close for 40 days in mourning. EFE