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Pope condemns attack that killed 4 nuns in Yemen

Pope Francis prays during a penitential ceremony on March 4, 2016 at St Peter's basilica in Vatican City. ©AFP

Pope Francis has condemned as “diabolical” a deadly attack on a care home run by missionaries in southern Yemen, where 16 people including four nuns were killed.

The Vatican's Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said in a condolence message on Saturday that the pontiff is "shocked and profoundly saddened to learn of the killing of four Missionaries of Charity (nuns) and 12 others at a home for the elderly in Aden."

The pope also sent his prayers for the dead and voiced spiritual closeness to their families and to "all affected from this act of senseless and diabolical violence," Cardinal Parolin added, echoing his call for "all parties to lay down their arms."

On Friday, gunmen raided the refuge for the elderly operated by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in the port city of Aden, killing a Yemeni guard and shooting 15 other employees.

A Yemeni militant, loyal to the fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, is seen outside an elderly care home in Aden, southern Yemen, after it was attacked by gunmen on March 4, 2016. ©AFP

Four foreign nuns working as nurses were among the dead, with The Vatican missionary news agency Fides identifying them as two Rwandans, a Kenyan and an Indian. The agency said the Mother Superior hid and survived while an Indian priest has gone missing.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility for the carnage, but sources close to Yemen’s fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi blamed it on the Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

Yemen has been under Saudi airstrikes on a daily basis since the regime in Riyadh launched its military aggression against the impoverished country in late March 2015, in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

Exploiting the chaos in Yemen, Daesh, which is mainly operating in Syria and Iraq, has been able to infiltrate the country.

The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has also taken advantage of the volatile conditions and the breakdown of security in Yemen since the beginning of the Saudi war to tighten its grip on parts of southeastern Yemen.

AQAP, meanwhile, in a statement denied "any links to the attack on the elderly care home" in Aden.

Ansarullah fighters, along with allied army units, are fighting the Takfiris and resisting the unabated Saudi aggression against war-torn Yemen.

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