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A crocodile has killed a Protestant pastor while he was baptising people at a lake in Ethiopia.

Others at the scene tried to help him, and managed to fend off the crocodile, but the pastor died from the wounds to his legs, back and hands.

A recent shortage of fish in Ethiopia's Lake Abaya has led to more aggressive behaviour from its resident crocodiles.

Ethiopian news outlet Borkena.com said members of the church were left devastated by the gruesome attack and reported it widely on social media.

Speaking to the BBC, local resident Ketema Kairo said: "He baptised the first person and he passed on to another one".

Nearby fishermen used their nets to retrieve the body before the crocodile could drag it further into the lake.

Crocodiles tend to clamp their jaws down firmly when they bite, making it almost impossible for victims to escape, the Telegraph said.

Crocodiles are estimated to kill about 1,000 people per year, according to CrocBite, a database from the Charles Darwin University. Nile crocodiles can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh more than 2,200 pounds.

Crocodile attacks are common in Africa, the paper reported, with numerous victims being women washing clothes.