THE NIGHT OF SEPT. 6 AN ITALIAN WOMAN RELIGIOUS, AGED 83, WAS BRUTALLY MURDERED in an armed attack on the Chipene mission in the Diocese of Nacala, Mozambique. ACN International deplores the fact that a religious dimension is becoming increasingly prominent in the attacks by Islamist terrorists
Sister María de Coppi, a Comboni sister who had worked in Mozambique for 59 years, was shot and died instantly in the attack, which began at 9PM and continued until 2AM.
The attackers ransacked and burned down not only the mission church but also the school, the health center, the residences of the priests and of the nuns, the library, the boys’ and girls’ boarding houses, and the vehicles belonging to the mission. “They destroyed everything,” reported Bishop Alberto Vera of Nacala, speaking by telephone to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
“The attackers broke open the tabernacle and vandalized part of the sacristy, looking for whatever they could find – probably money,” the bishop continued. Bishop Vera said he did not think this was in fact an attack against the Church, but rather a way of seeking international attention. “This is a major coup for them because there were foreign religious here. They are seeking international publicity. I don’t think it was directed against the Church. What they did was an act of terror.”
At the time of the attack there were at least three foreign sisters at the Chipene mission, two Italians and one Spanish nun, and two Italian priests.
Prior to the attack, owing to the dangerous situation in the area they had evacuated all 35 boys and most of the 45 girls who were living in the boarding houses and most of them had already returned to their families. Nevertheless, there were still 12 girls staying at the mission.