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Somalia Christians On Edge after the Murder of Catholic Nun and Battle to take over Baidoa

September 27 2006

BosNewsLife

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Somalia, still in shock over the assassination of a nun, were believed to be on edge Wednesday, September 27, amid reports that a hard-line Islamic rebel group is preparing to take-over the only city still controlled by the weak transitional government.

The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) was reportedly preparing for an all-out battle with government troops backed by forces from neighboring Ethiopia around the city of Baidoa , where residents reportedly fear the UIC and its hard-line Islamic rule.

It comes just over a week after Rosa Sgorbati, an Italian missionary who worked in a paediatrics hospital in Somalia under her religious name Sister Leonella was killed in Mogadishu on September 17 by suspected Islamic militants.

The attack has been linked to anger among Muslims over comments the pope made recently criticizing aspects of Islam, including holy wars, which have been taken by many Muslims as an attempt to portray their religion as violent. In addition strict Islamic regulations have been spreading under the UIC.

PRAISING NUN

Pope Benedict XVI praised this weekend Sgorbati for pardoning her killers as she lay dying.

This nun, who for many years served the poor and the children in Somalia , died pronouncing the world ‘pardon’,” the pope told pilgrims during his traditional Sunday noon appearance. “This is the most authentic Christian testimony, a peaceful sign of contradiction which shows the victory of love over hate and evil.”

The Catholic nun’s bodyguard also died in the latest attack apparently aimed at foreign personnel in volatile Somalia . The bodyguard died instantly, but the nun was rushed into an operating theatre at the hospital after the shooting.

SERIOUS INJURIES

“After serious injuries, she died in the hospital treatment room,” doctor Ali Mohamed Hassan told reporters. “She was shot three times in the back.”

“I forgive, I forgive,” she whispered in her native Italian just before she died Sunday, September 17, in Mogadishu , the Somali capital, Reverend Maloba Wesonga said at her memorial mass in Nairobi .

Sister Leonella’s slaying, outside the hospital where she worked, raised concerns she and other foreigners killed in Somalia recently are victims of growing Islamic radicalism in the Horn of Africa country, where UIC has been expanding its reach.