ADEN: Gunmen attacked a care home run by missionaries in Yemen’s southern city of Aden on Friday, killing 16 workers including four foreign nuns, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Aden has seen a surge in attacks by the Islamic State group and rival Al-Qaeda. Four gunmen entered the refuge operated by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Aden’s Sheikh Othman district, killing a guard before tying up and shooting employees, security officials told AFP.
Screams of elderly residents echoed from the home during the shooting rampage, witnesses said. They recounted seeing the bodies of slain workers with their arms tied behind their backs scattered on the blood-stained floor as the aged residents cried out in fear. Apart from the four foreign nuns, the rest of those killed were Yemenis working at the facility, officials said.
Sunita Kumar, a spokeswoman for the Missionaries of Charity in the Indian city of Kolkata, said the members of the charity were “absolutely stunned” at the killing. “The sisters were to come back but they opted to stay on to serve people” in Yemen, she added. She also said that two of the killed nuns were from Rwanda and the other two were from India and Kenya.
The official sabanews.net website cited another security source as saying that the victims were nurses, guards, cooks and other employees. They include Yemenis, Indians and Ethiopians, the source said, adding that seven women were among those killed. The source said the assailants opened fire separately at every victim they tied up in different parts of the building. “We have never witnessed such a brutal crime,” he said, adding that the killing spree lasted one hour. “I went out for Friday prayers. When I came back, I found all my friends dead,” one of the residents said.
Yemeni Prime Minister Khalid Bahah said in a statement that security forces were hunting down the “terrorists” who carried out the attack. One official said the attackers were “extremists” and blamed the Islamic State group, which has been gaining ground in Aden in recent months.
It is not the first deadly attack on the Mother Teresa order in Yemen. In 1998, three of its nuns were shot dead in western Yemen by a psychiatric patient who had volunteered to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims in 1992 before returning to the Arabian Peninsula country. Once a cosmopolitan city home to thriving Hindu and Christian communities, Aden has gone from one of the world’s busiest ports as a key hub of the British Empire to a largely lawless backwater. Aden’s small Christian population left long ago. Unknown assailants have previously vandalized a Christian cemetery, torched a church and last year blew up an abandoned Catholic church. – Agencies