A nun who is the lone survivor of an Islamic State terrorist attack on a church-run retirement home in Yemen earlier this month has provided an eyewitness testimony of the massacre that took the lives of 16 civilians, including four nuns.
In speaking with a fellow nun named Sister Rio, Sister Sally, the superior of the sisters' community in Yemen, gave her detailed account of the March 4 IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) massacre at the Missionaries of Charity home in Aden.
As Sister Sally recalled the horrible incident, her recollection was written down on a piece of paper by Sister Adriana. A copy of the handwritten account was obtained and posted on the Internet by the Catholic news site Aleteia.
According to the account, IS militants stormed the home around 8:30 a.m. and immediately killed the guard and a driver.
Five Christian Ethiopian men ran to alert the nuns that IS militants were there to kill them.
"They were killed one by one," the account reads. "They tied them to trees, shot them in the head and smashed their heads."
As the sisters ran two-by-two in different directions, the testimony states that four women who worked at the home began shouting "Don't kill the sisters! Don't kill the sisters." Those women were also killed.
"They caught Sister Judith and Sister Reginette first, tied them up, shot them in the head and smashed their heads," the testimony explains. "They caught Sister Anselm and Sister Marguerite, tied them, shot them in the head and smashed their heads in the sand."
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The testimony states that it wasn't clear how many IS jihadis had participated in the attack. But Sister Sally was able to escape the militants' wrath by standing in the refrigerator room behind a door. Fortunately, none of the militants noticed her standing there.
"These ISIS men were everywhere, searching for her, as they knew there were five [nuns]," the account reads. "At least three times they came into the refrigerator room. She did not hide, but remained standing behind the door — they never saw her. This is miraculous."
The testimony adds that a neighbor saw the militants put Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was kidnapped by the jihadis, in their car.
"They did not find any trace of father anywhere," the testimony states. "All the religious articles were smashed and destroyed — our Lady, crucifix, the altar, tabernacle, lectionary, stand — even their prayer books and Bibles."
The account states that the militants had left the home around 10 or 10:15 a.m.
"Sister Sally came to get the bodies of the sisters. She got them all," the testimony details. "She went to the patients, to each one individually, to see if they were OK. Not one was hurt."
The police arrived around 10:30 a.m. to find the remnants of the massacre. Although Sister Sally wanted to stay with the people at the home, the police forced her to go with them because the militants knew that there were five nuns and they would "not stop until they killed her too."
Sister Sally, along with the bodies of the slain nuns, were taken to a Doctors Without Borders hospital. However, the Doctors Without Borders mortuary was not big enough to hold the sisters' bodies. The police then took those bodies to another hospital mortuary.
"Sally told Rio that she is so sad because she is alone and did not die with her sisters," the account states. "Rio told her that God wanted a witness and told her 'who would have found the sisters bodies and who would ever tell us what happened? God wants us to know.'"
Sally then said Uzhunnalil had told the nuns to "be ready for martyrdom."
Two days after the attack during his Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Pope Francis called the four slain nuns "today's martyrs."
Rumors are spreading on social media that IS is torturing Uzhunnalil and plans to execute and crucify him on Good Friday.
Franciscan Sisters of Siessen's Facebook page is calling on supporters to pray for Uzhunnalil in light of the execution rumors.
"This calls for serious concerted prayers from all of us," the post states.