Gunmen kill nuns, 12 others in Yemeni retirement home massacre
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 3/04/16, 02:00 pm
Gunmen killed 16 people, including four Indian nuns, in an attack on a retirement home in Yemen’s southern city of Aden earlier today.
Yemeni security officials said the gunmen handcuffed all the victims before shooting them in the head. Local authorities took the dead to a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders.
The retirement home housed about 80 residents and is run by Missionaries of Charity, the religious order established by Mother Theresa in 1950.
The gunmen also killed six Ethiopians, one Yemeni cook, and Yemeni guards. One nun, who survived the attack, told Associated Press reporters she hid in a storage room refrigerator after hearing a Yemeni guard shouting for people to run.
“In the recent conflict, this is one of the first terrorist attacks on innocent people,” said Charles Schmitz, a nonresident expert at the Middle East Institute.
In 1998, gunmen killed three Missionaries of Charity nuns during an attack in Hodeida, Yemen.
No group has claimed responsibility for today’s attack, but Yemen is in the midst of a civil war that began in March 2015. The conflict has split the country into two factions: the north controlled by Shiite Houthi rebels and the south controlled by a Saudi Arabian-backed government based in Aden.
The instability also has created room for extremist groups like al-Qaeda to thrive, especially in the south. Islamic State militants admitted to killing Aden’s governor in a December car bombing, as well as claiming several other assassinations of top officials.
“The number of people joining radical groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda is increasing and they are becoming popular in southern regions of Yemen,” said Sherine El Taraboulsi, a research fellow with the Overseas Development Institute. “It’s attracting a lot of young people who have no other alternative.”
Aden, once among the world’s busiest ports, was home to Hindu and Christian communities. But after the war began, the city became a hub for terrorism. Unidentified attackers have burned a church, vandalized a Christian cemetery, and blown up an abandoned Catholic Church.
The war has claimed the lives of at least 62,000 civilians, injured thousands, and displaced more than 2 million people. And it shows few signs of improvement.
“The crisis is severe and it is only going to worsen in the coming months,” Schmitz said. “Neither side is ready to negotiate. The Saudi-backed coalition wants a military solution and the Houthi side is not going to surrender.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.