A teenager who was murdered as she walked to church had been raped and had her face skinned by her killers.

Christine Silawan, 17, was last seen at 4pm on Sunday with three men, and her family became worried and called police three hours later when she failed to return home.

A search was launched and her body was found with her face skinned, exposing her skull, say police.

Her mother had to identify her from her clothes, and shocked police officers had never seen such a brutal crime before.

Detectives believe the killers could have been high on drugs or removed the girl's face as part of a twisted ritual.

Friends are paying tribute to the paid tribute to the "beautiful, clever" girl while officers began the hunt for her killers in Lapu-Lapu City, Philippines.

Christine was walking to church, where she was a collector during Sunday masses, and was last seen at 4pm with three men in the city in Cebu province.

Her mother, Joan, became worried when she had not returned home by 7pm and called police.

She was found butchered and partially naked in a field on Monday morning.

Tributes are being paid to the young woman.

Haring Joseph said: "Rest in peace, my friend and my condolences to all of your family. May the police find whoever did this."

 

Locals gather after the teen's body was found.

 

Jimmy Deloso added: "Vengeance is not ours, it's God's. God's wrath will surely run after these demons who did this horrible murder. Rest in peace my sweet friend."

Police have launched a hunt for her killers.

Colonel Lemuel Obon, Lapu-Lapu City police director, said: "We have witnesses who said three men were seen with the victim. We are now tracing their whereabouts."

Officers said that they suspected the teenager had been raped as her clothes had been removed. They were no waiting for the results of a post-mortem examination.

Police Colonel Obon said Christine worked at the Sacred Heart Parish and was a regular churchgoer. It's not known if she knew her killers.

He added: "Police are investigating all motives about whether the young victim was the subject of an unprovoked attack and if the suspects were under the influence of drugs.

"We have never seen such a brutal crime before. It could also be a ritual to remove the skin from the face. The mother of the girl identified her from her clothes."