Al-Qaeda has denied responsibility for the savage attack on a home for the elderly established by Mother Teresa in Yemen’s port city of Aden, in which four Catholic nuns were murdered, along with 12 other people.
“Our honorable people of Aden, we Ansar al-Sharia deny any connection or relation to the operation that targeted the elders’ house,” said al-Qaeda’s umbrella group in Yemen, in a statement released on Sunday. “This is not our operation and it’s not our way of fighting.”
UPI reports Indian officials believe the attack was the work of the Islamic State, and ISIS is holding an Indian priest named Tom Uzhunnalil prisoner.
“Yemen is a conflict zone. We do not have Embassy there. But we will spare no efforts to rescue Father Tom Uzhunnalil,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said via Twitter.
CNN notes the “unusual statement stands in a sharp contrast with previous responses from al Qaeda and other terror groups, which have proudly claimed responsibility for other attacks.”
The UK Daily Mail reports the attack began on Friday when four gunmen entered the facility with the pretext of visiting their elderly mothers. Once inside, they shot the gatekeeper, then “moved from room to room, handcuffing the victims before shooting them in the head.” One of the nuns survived by hiding in a refrigerator in a storeroom.
The murders were horribly reminiscent of an attack in 1998 that killed three nuns from Mother Teresa’s organization Missionaries of Charity. The Daily Mail also notes a Catholic church in Aden was torched by Islamic extremists last summer.
According to the charity organization, one of the murdered nuns was Indian, one was Kenyan, and the other two were Rwandan.
CNN reports Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin called the attack “an act of senseless and diabolical violence,” while Pope Francis prayed 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.”
On Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope described the nuns as “the martyrs of today,” and said they were victims of “this globalization of indifference, that does not care.”