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Violence: 4 Catholic nuns, 13 others killed by gunmen at a retirement home in Yemen, Pope Francis condemns the massacre

At least seventeen people, including four Catholic nuns, were killed on Friday, March when armed men attacked a care home for the elderly run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

The group of gunmen raided the home for the elderly located in the Sheik Osman district of Aden. According to eyewitness reports, two gunmen encircled the facility while at least four raided the building housing over 80 patients. 
The gunmen then proceeded to separate four nuns at gunpoint before opening fire on them. Two of the four slaughtered nuns were Rwanda, one from India and another from Kenya. One nun managed to survive the attack by hiding inside a refrigerator.

After killing the nuns, the gunmen then moved from room to room handcuffing the patients and shooting them in the heads. Six Ethiopians, a Yemeni cook and Yemeni guards were also killed.

The dead and injured were taken to the city’s state-run Republican hospital and a health centre run by Medecins Sans Frontieres. A doctor at the Republican hospital told the media that some of the dead had arrived with their hands tied behind their backs. Most had been shot in the head. 

Paramedics said they expected the death toll to rise as some of the wounded had serious injuries. Officials and medics were unable to provide a figure for the number of people injured in the attack.

There were about 80 elderly residents at the home, which was established in 2000 by Missionaries of Charity, a religious order set up by Mother Teresa. Sunita Kumar, a spokeswoman for the order in the Indian city of Kolkata, said its members were “absolutely stunned” at the killing.

"The sisters were to come back but they opted to stay on to serve people in Yemen."  she said.

Missionaries of Charity, which also runs homes for the elderly in Taez, Hodeidah and Sanaa, is the only organisation to provide such a service in Yemen. Local religious leader Sheikh Mohammed Mahboob blamed the Aden attack on ISIL, which considers Christians to be heretics.

"The Islamic fighters have a wrong understanding of Islam" he said.

So far no group has claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, but reports on the ground indicate that the slaughter was carried out by Islamic State terrorists or their affiliates.

Yesterday, March 5, the Vatican condemned the killings. In a statement relased on behalf of Pope Francis , the Vatican's Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, said the pontiff was "shocked and profoundly saddened by the massacre.

"His Holiness Pope Francis was shocked and profoundly saddened to learn of the killing of four Missionaries of Charity and twelve others at a home for the elderly in Aden. 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. He 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. In the name of God, 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. Upon everyone suffering from this violence, the Holy Father invokes God’s blessing, and in a special ways he extends to the Missionaries of Charity his prayerful sympathy and solidarity".

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