Indian and Yemeni officials believe the Islamic State kidnapped an Indian priest in an attack that left 16 dead at a nursing home in Yemen.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) March 6, 2016
“Yemen is a conflict zone. We do not have Embassy there. But we will spare no efforts to rescue Father Tom Uzhunnalil,” stated external Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Twitter.
On Friday, four gunmen stormed into a nursing home founded by Mother Teresa in Aden, an important seaport. Ayoub Abu Baker, director of the local Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, said the terrorists slaughtered Indian, Ethiopian, and Yemeni citizens, including “six nuns, plus guards and the gardener.” Baker’s department and the Missionaries Charity operates the nursing home.
He said the gunmen did not harm the 60 residents.
“The priest Tom Kuzhuvennal, who hails from Kottayam district, has been taken away by these unidentified gunmen who opened fire, while Sally was moved to a safe place in the convent by the local people there after hearing the gun shots,” said an aide to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. “We are in close touch with our people in Yemen who are closely following the developments there.”
The New York Times noted that violence has expanded into Aden as the world’s poorest Arab country continues a war between “the Houthi rebel movement against a Saudi-backed Yemeni government.” Radical Islamic groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have taken advantage of the discord and “carved out a presence.”
India closed its embassy in Yemen last year “after evacuating most of its citizens.”
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, including al-Qaeda branch Ansar al-Sharia.
“Our honorable people of Aden, we Ansar al-Sharia deny any connection or relation to the operation that targeted the elders’ house. This is not our operation and it’s not our way of fight,” declared the group.
Pope Francis condemned the attack: “His Holiness Pope Francis was shocked and profoundly saddened to learn of the killing of four Missionaries of Charity [nuns] and 12 others at a home for the elderly in Aden,” said Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. “He sends the assurance of his prayers for the dead and his spiritual closeness to their families and to all affected from this act of senseless and diabolical violence.”
The gunmen killed two nuns from Rwanda, one from Kenya, and another from India. The Vatican confirmed the “mother superior managed to hide and survive.”
Parolin also said Pope Francis “prays that this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart, and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue.” He added, “He calls upon all parties in the present conflict to renounce violence, and to renew their commitment to the people of Yemen, particularly those most in need, whom the sisters and their helpers sought to serve.”