Pope Francis has reached out with a message of condolence for the victims of a terrorist attack on a care home in Yemen operated by the Missionaries of Charity in which four Catholic nuns as well as 12 other people were gunned down.
A group of gunmen stormed the home for the elderly, run by the order founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and opened fire, killing a total of 16 persons. One official blamed the Islamic State terrorist group for Friday’s attack while others believe that the attackers were members of a group linked to Al Qaeda.
In its message, the Vatican said that Pope Francis was “shocked and profoundly saddened” to learn of the killing of four Missionaries of Charity and twelve others at the home in the port city of Aden.
The Pope sent the assurance of his prayers for the dead and his spiritual closeness to their families and to all affected by the attack, which he called an act of “diabolical violence.”
Along with the four religious sisters, the shooters killed two Yemeni women working at the facility, eight elderly residents and a guard. There is no news for the moment on the whereabouts of the Salesian priest Tom Uzhunnalil, who resided at the sisters’ convent of the sisters.
“I went out for Friday prayers. When I came back, I found all my friends dead,” one of the residents said.
Islamist attacks on Christians have reportedly been on the rise ever since the country descended into civil war last year, and recent attacks on Christians have included the vandalization of a cemetery and blowing up an abandoned Catholic church.
One sister who escaped the attack said that she had hidden inside a refrigerator in a storeroom after hearing a guard warning people to run.
According to the Apostolic Vicar for the southern Arabia, Archbishop Paul Hinder, the sisters had resolutely continued to run the home for the elderly, despite the evident danger.
“They had decided to stay, no matter what happened, because this is part of their spirituality,” he said.
The archbishop also said it was clear that the attack was “religiously motivated.”
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