Four Catholic nuns among the dead in massacre by gunmen in Yemen

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A pro-government militant checks a room floor stained with blood at an old people's home after it was attacked by gunmen in the Yemeni port of Aden March 4, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stringer *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-YEMEN-NUNS, originally transmitted on March 4, 2016.

A pro-government militant checks a room floor stained with blood at an old people's home after it was attacked by gunmen in the Yemeni port of Aden March 4, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stringer *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-YEMEN-NUNS, originally transmitted on March 4, 2016.

ROME (RNS) Four nuns from the order founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta are reportedly among 16 killed by gunmen who attacked a church-run retirement home in Yemen, the latest attack on Christians in the increasingly lawless country.

The women religious, members of the Missionaries of Charity, were killed when four armed men attacked the convent and home for the elderly in the southern city of Aden on Friday (March 4), the Catholic news agency Fides reported.

Two of the nuns were Rwandan, while one was from Kenya and another Indian, Fides said.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility but Yemen, on the southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, is in the midst of a civil war that is also fueled by the involvement of outside nations.

The Islamic State group and al-Qaida affiliates have exploited the lawlessness and created safe havens in the south, where they have conducted numerous attacks.

In the summer, a Catholic church was burned by Islamic extremists. Unknown assailants have also vandalized a Christian cemetery and last year blew up an abandoned Catholic church.

Yemen’s embattled government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, is based in Aden but has struggled to impose its authority there. Shiite Houthi fighters allied with Iran still control the country’s capital, Sanaa.

Aden was once one of the world’s busiest ports and home to thriving Hindu and Christian communities, which have now largely disappeared.

One nun who survived Friday’s attack and was rescued by locals told The Associated Press that she hid inside a refrigerator in a storeroom after hearing a Yemeni guard shouting “run, run.”

Another survivor said that in addition to the four nuns, six Ethiopians, one Yemeni cook, and Yemeni guards were among the dead. There are about 80 elderly and disabled residents of the facility.

Security officials said the attackers separated the nuns from the others and then shot them. They later handcuffed the elderly people and opened fire.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in the Yemen conflict since last March, while 28,500 people have been injured, according to U.N. figures.

The Missionaries of Charity was founded by Mother Teresa in 1950 and the congregation has since expanded globally from its Indian origins.

Mother Teresa died in 1997 and is expected be made a saint later this year, after Pope Francis signed a decree attributing a miracle in Brazil to the late nun.

(Rosie Scammell covers the Vatican for RNS)

  • Thank you for the quick reporting of the sad news.
    We started praying for the victims at all our masses as soon as we got the news.
    In 1998 3 Missionaries of Charity lost their lives in a senseless attack by a lone gunman in Hodeidah, where they also have a home for the elderly.
    Fr. Gandolf, Abu Dhabi

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  • james joseph

    Thanks for the report. May their souls rest in peace. Martyrs of charity.

  • Mathew VA

    Our prayers for the community. May the souls of the departed rest in peace.

  • trudy Reaney

    May they Rest in the peace of the Lord for whom they labored and may they plead for peace, so desperately, needed in our world at this time!

  • Mohny Mathews

    May the souls of departed rest is peace! They have done a good fight against thrbevil

  • Pat Gabel

    May their pure souls rest in peace, We must pray for their killers, But the sisters are with GOD,

  • Josephraj

    When will we have civilised world?it is very inhuman of them who have done this ,all in the name of God!even God must be ashamed of this kind of His faithful!
    Let us make this world a place of goodwill before it is too late.
    “Bring peace Lord,please!”

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  • Sylvan Azavedo

    We have to only pray for these people. Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing. Enlighten their minds to the truth.

  • Jossy

    The blood of these nuns will sow the seed of faith in these region and there will be tremendous change in future exactly as it happened in Rome and elsewhere where persecutions existed.

  • Naty

    Thanks for these sisters and people who show us how its to die for our faith -may we pray for those of our brothers who are lost un hatred

  • Angela

    Father of all, Forgive them for they know not what they do. Thank you sister’s for giving your life in the service of us all. Angela Elizabeth a visitor to Abu Dhabi

  • JOY

    In fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think that they are doing a holy service for God. These things they will do becuse they have not known the Father or Me. These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumpling (John 16:2)

  • Our deepest sympathy on the deaths in Aden. May the good Lord give the victims eternal rest and comfort all those who must have been severely traumatised by the awful experience.

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  • nirmal

    Very sad new . May their Souls rest in peace.

    “Forgive them father they don’t know what they are doing. ” The days are very near . Very sad story about the brave sisters helping abandon disable and elders of Muslim community.

    This is not the only reason also some people waiting to get this land and church land to make there own . Please pray all as Catholics let our God protect his place. Amen.. Nirmal

  • sergio

    We need a new outpuring of the Holy Spirit!
    Let’s pray our Father God to send us a new Pentecost to renew the face of the Earth!
    Come Holy Spirit and give us the sense of the love and peace of heaven!
    Only You can eliminate the source of violence and the evil in our hearts because You are the increated Grace and the source of the Unity and Comunion in the Holy Trinity.
    Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the World and give us the gift of the unity among christians!

  • Jong

    amen! God bless their souls…

  • J. Angele

    In addition to this news, according to a report given to Fr. Xavier of Calcutta, when asked if the Sisters of the Society thought they should close that Mission and asked if there were any Sisters who would volunteer to go on that Mission in order to keep the home open, one hundred Sisters raised their hands.

    Mother M. Theresa used to have us pray that she might give martyrs to God.

    Blessed Be God, and the newest Martyrs of the Missionaries of Charity. We now pray to them to bring Peace to the World, and the Flame of Love to blind Satan. We consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that Her Promises of Fatima may be released now.

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  • Maria

    Please let us know if one missing priest and nun taken during the attack have been found yet…. Its really sad to hear about great Missionaries being killed in such way…