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Indian nun who escaped Yemen massacre still in shock

Missionaries of Charity sister resolves to 'go back to my work' after visiting her family
Indian nun who escaped Yemen massacre still in shock

"Even after two months, I've not overcome the shock," said Missionaries of Charity Sister Mary Sally, who escaped a massacre in war-torn Yemen. (Photo by Bibin Xavier)

Published: May 05, 2016 10:38 AM GMT
Updated: July 10, 2017 07:42 AM GMT

Trauma and shock continues to haunt the lone Missionaries of Charity nun who escaped a massacre in war-torn Yemen.

"Even after two months, I've not overcome the shock," said Missionaries of Charity Sister Mary Sally, from her ancestral home in Elandesom village in the southern Indian state of Kerala where she is currently meeting with relatives.

"It was a miraculous escape as the gunmen didn't see me when they raided our home," the 59-year old nun told ucanews.com May 4 exactly two months since gunmen attacked a home for the elderly operated by the nuns.

Four Missionaries of Charity nuns were shot dead by terrorists in Yemen.

The four nuns were among 16 people killed at a convent and home for the elderly in the lawless port city of Aden. Two of the slain nuns were from Rwanda, one was from Kenya and the other an Indian.

"I want to spend some time with my family and will go back to my work," Sister Sally said.

Soon after the attack, church officials and the India government arranged to move her to a safe place, first to the Abu Dhabi bishop's house in the United Arab Emirates and then helped arrange her travel documents to move to the Missionaries of Charity's regional house in Jordan, where she spent most of the past two months.

Last week she arrived at her congregation's motherhouse in Kolkata, eastern India. After she completes her home visit, Sister Sally will go to the order's regional headquarters in Amman, Jordan.

Sister Sally, who was superior at the home for the elderly, said was inside the facility when armed men stormed it early March 4.

"They shot at the security guard first and when other workers tried to warn us, they tied them to a tree and killed them," she said.

They then gunned down four Missionaries of Charity nuns, she said, explaining that she was saved because she was in another part of the building hidden from the  attackers.

"We all worked together. We all went together after breakfast that day to the destitute home where 64 elderly persons live," said the nun who joined the Missionaries of Charity in 1978.


Yemeni pro-government fighters gather outside an elderly care home in Aden after it was attacked by gunmen on March 4, killing 12 people, including four nuns. (Photo by AFP)


The nun said she can "only thank God" for saving her life and said she always prays for her "beloved sisters" who were killed. "They were all sweet people who served God with dedication. I miss them very much," the nun said.

Sister Sally also recounted the death of the women workers at the house founded by Mother Teresa in 1992. "Four women workers tried to block the gunmen and pleaded before them not to kill the nuns. But they mercilessly killed all four women," she said.

"They also destroyed our chapel" and abducted Indian Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, who was posted there to care for the pastoral needs of residents and workers at the home.

"They tied his hands and eyes with a black cloth. I can't relive those memories," she said.

She hopes and prays for the release of Father Uzhunnalil, who church officials and government sources confirm is still alive.

"He is a gem of a person and a dedicated priest. I hope that God will protect him," the nun said.

She said she "cannot understand" why the home and the nuns and priest who worked there were attacked. "We have done only good for the poor and cared for the disabled and elderly people who have been abandoned," she said.

Yemen has been caught up in a civil war that has killed more than 6,000 people since hostilities broke out in March 2015.

At present it is unclear who carried out the killings, but it is suspected the gunmen were members of al-Qaida or the Islamic State.

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