For Mgr Paul Hinder, the "signal is clear: it has something to do with religion". A clergyman who lived at the nuns’ convent was abducted. The facility’s superior saved herself by hiding. Four nuns and ten civilians were killed. For the Vicar, they "sacrificed their lives by following their own charism."
Sanaa (AsiaNews) – In a dramatic statement, Mgr Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar to Southern Arabia, spoke to AsiaNews about this morning’s “religiously-motivated” attack against the convent of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, in southern Yemen.
At 8:30 am, the prelate said, "People in uniform stormed the compound where the Missionaries of Charity live. After they killed the security guard and all the employees that stood in their way, they came for the nuns and opened fire, killing four [sisters]. One managed to hide and survive. Now she is in a safe place.”
The victims are Sister Anselm from India, Sister Marguerite from Rwanda, Sister Judit from Kenya and Sister Reginette also from Rwanda. The superior was able to find a hiding place.
The attackers seized Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest who lived at the facility. At the time of the attack, he "was in the chapel praying."
Overall, 14 people lost their life: four religious and ten lay people, employees of the community that also housed senior citizens and disabled people.
"We knew that the situation was difficult and that the sisters were running a certain risk,” Mgr Hinder said. In fact, the nuns had been attacked in the past. However, "they decided to stay no matter what because this was part of their spirituality.”
At the same time, “It was clear that the area was not safe, even if there had been no special signs [of trouble]. Getting information was hard." For the prelate though, the "signal is clear: it has something to do with religion".
In July 1998, a gunman shot and killed three nuns of the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa of Kolkata as they left a hospital in the city of Al Hudaydah.
Yemeni authorities said at the time that the assailant was an “unbalanced Saudi”. Two of the murdered nuns were from India – Sister Lilia and Sister Anneta – whilst the third, Sister Michelle, was from the Philippines.
Since January 2015, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody civil war pitting the country’s Sunni leadership, backed by Saudi Arabia, against Shia Houthi rebels, close to Iran.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against the rebels in an attempt to free the capital For Saudi Arabia, the Houthis, who are allied to forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, are militarily supported by Iran, a charge the latter angrily rejects.
Groups linked to al Qaeda and jihadist militias linked to the Islamic State group are active in the country, which adds to the spiral of violence and terror.
The apostolic vicar proposes to focus on family spirituality, making families "active in the Gospel." The Himalayan nation has many mixed couples and hundreds of conversions to Christianity. The 2016 Plenary of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences also focused on the family.
Jyoti Shrestha participated in the Mass along with scores of Hindus and Buddhists. "In our religion, many suffer from discrimination, whilst in Christianity there is equality." For Apostolic Vicar Mgr Paul Simick, who led the liturgy, "We have to think whether we are ready to die for Jesus or not. If we are not ready to die for him, then we must at least be prepared to live for Jesus”.